Sexual harassment is one of the most common types of harassment in the workplace and costs employers millions of dollars each year in settlements, attorneys’ fees and court costs.
If you’re a small or medium sized business owner, the cost of just one sexual harassment case could potentially sink your ship. In addition, harassment in the workplace can have a detrimental effect on your company culture and employee morale.
Five Things You May Not Know about Sexual Harassment
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
- The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
Your staff spends a lot of time together – sometimes as much as or more than they spend at home – so forming relationships is natural. Some of the bonds are harmless, but others wander into dangerous territory. It’s your job to make sure your organization is a comfortable, respectful and safe place for everyone to work.
That’s why training every supervisor and employee about sexual harassment (and all other forms of harassment and discrimination) is vital. Taking a proactive approach to preventing sexual harassment in your workplace is key to avoiding both repercussions in the office and trouble in the courts.
Sometimes, sexual harassment can happen right in front of you, and you may not even realize it. It can be as simple as repeatedly asking someone on a date or even telling a joke.
Five Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:
- When a person stands too close to another person and talks in an intimate way.
- When a person looks or comments on someone else's body in a way that makes that person feel uncomfortable.
- When a person asks another person about his or her romantic experiences.
- When a person insists on talking to others about his or her own romantic experiences.
- When a person tries to get others to talk about a picture, movie or song that's sexual in nature.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), simple teasing, off-hand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious are not considered unlawful. However, when the behavior becomes so chronic or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse work event, that's unlawful.
Do you have additional questions about how to protect yourself and your employees? Be sure to check out our webinar on sexual harassment in the workplace.
Partnering with FrankCrum grants you access to a team of HR experts. If you have questions about any HR-related issues, call 1-866-697-6576.