Recognizing sexual harassment in the workplace may not seem like a difficult thing to do. The most commonly reported instances of sexual harassment in the workplace are typically instances wherein the harassment is recurrent and blatantly offensive. Unwelcome touching or kissing, relentless sexual inquiries, or uttering explicit comments all fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment that mistreated women (and, less frequently, men) unjustly carry.
Intriguingly, that umbrella is more sizeable than most persons probably know. That is to say, many victims of sexual harassment are likely not aware that they’re even victims.
Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace do not have to involve any direct or indirect communication between co-workers. Indeed, the act of a staring or leering at someone alone is a form of sexual harassment, and the offended party has every right to hold the perpetrator accountable for it, regardless of whether or not they’ve even spoken to each other before. Sexually explicit pictures – either in the form of screensavers or posters hung up in the office – also fall under the category of sexual harassment.
Even a joke can exemplify sexual harassment, particularly if it is interpreted to carry sexual undertones or be suggestive in some way. Inappropriate notes, online direct messages, emails, or advancements made through a social networking site all signify sexual harassment as well.
It’s essential that all persons in the workplace know that these actions are just as implicative of sexual harassment as recurring unwanted requests for dates or sex. Why? Because pleading ignorance to an act of sexual harassment does not reduce the weight of the act, nor does it make the guilty party any less guilty or the victim any less victimized.
Recognizing sexual harassment when it occurs is vital to the cultivation of a safe and accountable work environment. Unconsciousness of its permanence in the workplace is not an excuse, nor should it ever be viewed as one. Rather, it’s a way of accepting unacceptable behavior.
Written By: C. Fassett