Sexual harassment in the workplace is a subject that’s gaining more and more attention. This is because more victims are coming forward and speaking out against their accusers.
While many know the definition of sexual harassment, few are aware of the different kinds of sexual harassment.
Did you know that sexual harassment is not limited to physical contact?
That’s right, sexual harassment comes in many different forms and is not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, or creed.
Since there is a wide spectrum for what is considered sexual harassment, many cases go unreported.
Learning about the uncommon types of workplace harassment and worker’s rights can help us keep the workplace a safe and healthy environment.
Table of Contents
Types of Sexual Harassment
- First, we’ll go over the different types of sexual harassment. Three main types of sexual harassment include physical, verbal, and visual harassment.
- Physical harassment occurs when a coworker uses physical contact without the other coworker’s consent.
- This could include touching inappropriate areas or it could be as simple as invading one’s personal space.
- Verbal harassment occurs when a coworker speaks to another coworker in a sexual manner.
- This includes telling sexual jokes or consistently coercing a coworker into dating or having sexual relations with them.
- Verbal harassment can also occur through texts and emails.
- Visual harassment occurs when a coworker exposes themselves inappropriately.
- Like verbal harassment, this can also occur through sending sexual photos or videos.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Now that we went over the three main types of sexual harassment, let’s go over some uncommon examples that qualify as sexual harassment.
Keep in mind, none of these scenarios are gender-specific as both women and men can experience them.
A coworker touches your waist while walking past you. They make it seem as if it was an accident when it was really intentional.
Although subtle, this is a clear sign of physical sexual harassment and a violation of your personal space.
Two of your coworkers are cracking crude, sexual jokes. While they aren’t saying these jokes to you directly, you can hear everything they’re saying in your vicinity.
Even though the person is not involved in the conversation, this still qualifies as verbal sexual harassment in the workplace.
A coworker shows you a meme that contains sexual innuendo. You respond with an uncomfortable laugh.
Something like this might sound innocent, but it 100 percent qualifies as visual sexual harassment.
Policy and Rights
Those were some examples of subtle sexual harassment. Now, we will discuss the workplace policy and worker’s rights in regards to sexual harassment.
Most workplaces have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment.
Those who are victims of sexual harassment are encouraged to report any incident where they felt violated. This can be done in person or in writing and the report will be kept confidential.
After this, the perpetrator will undergo an investigation. Depending on the outcome, the staff member could receive a suspension or termination.
In severe cases, the perpetrator could even be subjected to jail time.
This policy is not only limited to the general staff or interns. It also applies to managers, supervisors, or any worker who knew that the harassment was taking place and let it continue.
It’s also important to keep in mind that many workplaces have a retaliation prohibition.
This means that the victim will not lose employment or face discrimination for speaking up about their harassment.
Sexual harassment is not only prohibited in the workplace, it is also prohibited by state and federal law.
How to End Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
So we know the uncommon ways that sexual harassment can occur and we know the policies and rights of sexual harassment cases. Given these factors, why does sexual harassment continue to happen?
As previously mentioned, the often-subtle nature of sexual harassment leads to fewer reportings.
Despite the retaliation policies, retaliation with sexual harassment still continues to happen.
How many cases of this do we see happening in politics and the entertainment industry? A lot.
So how do companies work to put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace?
First, it’s important to educate your staff on what qualifies and doesn’t qualify as sexual harassment. This will make staff more mindful of their behavior when interacting with other coworkers.
This training should encourage a respectful and friendly workplace. It should also make staff aware of the severe consequences they could face if they are a perpetrator of sexual harassment.
Likewise, it’s also important to urge staff to take note of sexual harassment that is happening to another coworker.
Sometimes, a person may be resistant to reporting their harassment for fear of retaliation.
Being a good bystander will ensure that the victim receives justice and the perpetrator is held accountable.
Being Aware of Uncommon Sexual Harassment
While society is becoming more aware of sexual harassment, it continues to remain an ongoing problem in the workplace. This article covered scenarios of sexual harassment that may go unnoticed.
Likewise, it covered how to handle cases of sexual harassment and ways to end it.
To end sexual harassment in the workplace, we must continue to educate people on the topic and the subtle ways harassment may be carried out.
We must also continue to educate people about what to do if they become victims of sexual harassment in the workplace and their rights as an individual.
If you’re looking for a training course on sexual harassment for your workplace, check out the sexual harassment training course provided by HIPAA Exams.
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