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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Many men admit to harassing behaviors

It may come as little surprise to women in Fresno, California, that sexual harassment is an ongoing problem in the American workplace. Almost half of all women have reported experiencing sexual harassment while at work. What is interesting is that, according to a relatively recent survey, many men were in confidence willing to admit to engaging in some sort of behavior at work that, legally, might be considered sexual harassment.

Of the over 600 men asked, 1 in 4 admitted to engaging in at least one type of inappropriate behavior, although they were often somewhat reluctant to admit that it was actually sexual harassment. Per the rules of the survey, these behaviors had to have occurred within the previous 12 months.

The most common of these behaviors, according to the survey, was the telling of lewd, sexist or otherwise inappropriate jokes, with 19 percent of those surveyed acknowledging that behavior. Another common behavior was the making of blatantly sexist remarks, with 16 percent of men acknowledging that behavior. Although less common, using and distributing pornography or other sexually explicit material was also fairly common, with 7 percent of men admitting to engaging in this behavior.

While more flagrant types of sexual harassment, like inappropriate touching or offering professional rewards in exchange for sex, were less common, the survey did make it clear that men who engaged in these behaviors rarely did so in a vacuum. In a sense, the survey made it clear that telling dirty jokes and making sexist remarks were gateway behaviors, as men who engaged in these were five times more likely to also engage in other forms of sexual harassment.

Any form of sexual harassment in the workplace is wrong and illegal under both California and federal law. A woman, or man for that matter, who has been a victim of sexual harassment has legal options available. They should not continue working in an environment that is not comfortable for them without exercising their options.

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