Sexual harassment at work is a serious issue that can have detrimental effects on individuals and the workplace as a whole. Along with being illegal, harassment can harm the mental well-being of staff members.
While it is important for employers to maintain a safe and inclusive environment, workers must understand the different forms of sexual harassment to address the issue effectively.
Unwanted sexual advances
Inappropriate comments, unwelcome touching or persistent advances can create a hostile work environment. For instance, an employee might constantly make suggestive remarks about a colleague’s appearance or try to engage in unwanted physical contact.
Offensive jokes and comments
Sexually explicit jokes, comments or innuendos can be hurtful and offensive. Consider that a staff member who regularly tells off-color jokes will most likely make others uncomfortable.
Display of explicit material
Sharing or displaying explicit photos, videos or written material at the workplace can constitute sexual harassment. An example might be a colleague sending explicit images to a co-worker’s email or leaving them on their desk.
In the digital age, sexual harassment can also occur through electronic means. This includes sending explicit messages, images or videos via email, social media or other digital platforms, thereby causing distress and discomfort.
Comments or actions directed at someone because of their gender can also constitute sexual harassment. An example can involve a manager constantly berating a female employee because he believes women are less competent than men.
Retaliation occurs when an employee reports sexual harassment and faces adverse consequences as a result. For example, a manager cannot disregard a worker for promotions or subject them to other forms of mistreatment because they filed a harassment complaint.
As reported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the organization received 5,581 charges of sexual harassment in 2021. Because of the damage sexual harassment can do to a workplace, both business owners and staff members have an investment in appropriately addressing the issue.