During the past three years, Americans have grown much more aware of sexual harassment in the workplace thanks to the case against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which led to the launch of the #MeToo movement, his conviction and subsequent prison sentence.
More and more victims are willing to speak up about sexual harassment in the workplace. And it is about time that companies and management take these allegations seriously. While examples such as Weinstein’s blatant misdeeds still exist, more subtle forms of workplace sexual harassment such as flirtatious behavior have floated around for years. Think of the uncomfortable situations at office parties, happy hours, business trips and workplace meetings.
Confront the harasser
Did that just happen? Did I just witness that? If a subtle form of sexual harassment happens to you at work, be direct and immediately confront the other person. Here are some examples of subtle forms of workplace sexual harassment:
- Unwanted touching such as a hug, tickling or hand to the knee or shoulder.
- When a manager or co-worker inappropriately touches themselves while in front of you.
- Unwelcomed and ambiguous comments about your looks and other matters in your personal life.
- Late-night telephone calls to your hotel room during work-related business trips.
- Unwelcomed social media messages, texts and work emails.
Sometimes, management may already be aware of such misbehavior and chosen not to pursue punitive measures against serial harassers. This is when you must stand up and fight, while, at the same time, look for another job. If management supports such employees, then this company houses a culture that harbors sexual harassment.
A chain of communication is firmly in place for reporting workplace harassment, and it starts with you. Besides confronting the harasser, the next step is to report the incident to your manager or a trusted manager. However, if you suspect that management is unsupportive, contact a human resources official. And if you know that human resources prioritizes the company’s interests over the employees’ interests, contact an experienced employment law attorney.