What is sexual harassment in the workplace?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is almost always about power – one person is trying to dominate or control another person and is using harassing conduct as a way to marginalize someone else. It is treating someone else as a sexual object, and not as an equal member of the workplace. Sexual harassment can come from a supervisor, a co-worker, a contractor, a customer, or anyone else in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can include unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature. It can also include written and spoken statements that either demand sex or that denigrate someone because of their sex or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment, as with other kinds of harassment, harms not only the direct target of the harassment, but also co-workers, who realize that they could be the next target of harassment.
It is important that workers be willing to stand up for their rights, as that will protect others in the same workplace. This means, whenever possible, reporting sexual harassment to managers, human resources, and others who can take action.