Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What You Should Know

Debbie McDaniel | Contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com | Monday, April 24, 2017
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What You Should Know

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What You Should Know


With recent headline news stories centering around Fox News and allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, maybe it’s time to shed some light on this problem that’s plagued far too many people through the years.

It is clear through studies and reports that a major issue still exists with sexual harassment in our country, and it’s likely more prevalent than we even realize. Forbes.com states, “A recent study also confirms this: 24% of female respondents said they had experienced being sexually harassed, compared to 5% of men…But that number is likely higher, as the data indicated that a chunk of the respondents didn’t realize behavior that they had encountered was actually sexual harassment.”

The United States' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

No matter where you work, what job or role you have in the workplace, one thing is sure: Sexual harassment is never “OK.” And the one being harassed should never be made to feel like they can’t speak up or get help, for fear of losing their job. The more we talk about the problem and attempt to put an end to harassment and abuse, the less power it will have over our lives and work environments.

7 Things You Should Know about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:

1.  Sexual Harassment is more common than we may realize.

Statistics from the EEOC reveal:
79% of victims are women, 21% are men.
51% are harassed by a supervisor.
Business, trade, banking, and finance are the biggest industries where sexual harassment occurs.
12% received threats of termination if they did not comply with their requests.
In the military, 26,000 people were assaulted in 2012.
Only 302 of those 2,558 cases which were pursued by victims, were actually prosecuted.
38% of the cases were committed by someone of a higher rank.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that, by law, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

2. Incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace are widely underreported.

71% of people who had been sexually harassed did not report it. Many may wonder why. Statistics tell us this is most likely due to concerns that reports won’t be handled properly, or that employers, or the offender, will seek retaliation. These are valid concerns considering that of the 29% of women who did report the incidents, only 15% were satisfied with the outcome.

3. There’s a clear link between sexual harassment and sexual assault.

This is disturbing but true, and yet another reason sexual harassment needs to be taken seriously.
The Rand study found a clear link between sexual harassment and sexual assault. “US military women who had been sexually harassed in the past year were 14 times more likely to have also been sexually assaulted in the same period (compared to women who had not been sexually harassed). That probability was 49 times higher for men.”

4. You have a voice, don’t be afraid to use it. 

Workplacefairness.org shares helpful advice if you’re dealing with this difficult problem:
Say no. One legal requirement for sexual harassment is that the conduct be "unwelcome." Make sure the harasser knows that his or her conduct is unwelcome. Tell the person that his or her behavior offends you. Firmly refuse all invitations for dates or other personal inaction outside of work. Don't engage in sexual banter or flirt back in response, or otherwise send mixed signals. Direct communication, whether verbal or in writing, is better than ignoring the behavior and hoping it will go away.”

5. Report any harassment to your employer.

As difficult as this may be, it’s crucial that you report the occurrence, so the harassment will be revealed and able to be dealt with by the employer. It is always recommended to put this in written communication as well, so there is a clear timeline on when the event was reported. Know the policies that are already in place about reporting sexual harassment in your work environment and follow those closely. Many may fear retaliation by the employer if they speak up about harassment or abuse, but by law, the employer is required to remain impartial even after a report has been filed. They are also required to conduct an internal investigation. Keep timing in mind when reporting. In most cases an employee has 180 days, six months, from the date the harassment occurred, in order to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC and preserve your rights.

6. Document each occurrence clearly, with complete details of dates, times, etc., and keep in a safe place at home.

Try to be as objective as possible, giving full details of incident(s). Ask any other employees or coworkers who may have witnessed the harassment to document anything they saw or heard as well. Store all records at home or in a safe place. Along with that, keep all copies of employee records from work evaluations, endorsements, or letters that show you’ve done a good job in the workplace.

7. Keep moving forward.

This may be most difficult, but whatever happens, don’t get stuck. Sexual harassment can cause great stress and pressure, both personally, and in the workplace. Keep doing a good job where you are. Keep moving forward. Even if it means changing jobs. Even if it means filing a formal complaint with the EEOC so that the harassment has a greater chance of being stopped.

As believers, we can be most grateful for the truth that no matter what we face in this life, we are never alone. God fights for us, even when we’re unaware, and assures us that He knows all and sees all. It may take some time. You may have to stand strong through very tough battles. But He assures us that eventually, the truth will come to light. Always.

Do what is right. Keep praying. Don’t allow fear, harassment, or bullying to have power over you. Speak the truth. Stand strong. And keep moving forward.

 

Read more by Debbie McDaniel at www.debbiemcdaniel.comhttps://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel/, or https://twitter.com/debbmcdaniel.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/thodonal

Publication date: April 24, 2017