You are on page 1of 9

SEXUAL HARRASSMENT & GENDER HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE I. WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. The legal definition of sexual harassment is “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.” Unwelcome: Conduct is not sexual harassment if it is welcome. For this reason, it is important to communicate (either verbally, in writing, or by your own actions) to the harasser that the conduct makes you uncomfortable and that you want it to stop. Conduct of A Sexual Nature: Many different kinds of conduct—verbal, visual or physical— that is of a sexual nature may be sexual harassment, if the behavior is unwelcome and if it is severe or pervasive. Here are some more examples: Verbal or written: Comments about clothing, personal behavior, or a person’s body; sexual or sex-based jokes; requesting sexual favors or repeatedly asking a person out; sexual innuendoes; telling rumors about a person’s personal or sexual life; threatening a person. Physical: Assault; impeding or blocking movement; inappropriate touching of a person or a person’s clothing; kissing, hugging, patting, stroking. Nonverbal: Looking up and down a person’s body; derogatory gestures or facial expressions of a sexual nature; following a person. Visual: Posters, drawings, pictures, screensavers or emails of a sexual nature. ** Non-sexual conduct may also be sexual harassment if you are harassed because you are female, rather than male, or because you are male, rather than female.For example, it may be sexual harassment if you are a woman working as a carpenter on an all-male job, and you are the only one whose tools are frequently hidden by your male co-workers.

II. WHAT IS GENDER HARRASSMENT? Gender harassment is a form of sexual harassment. It includes generalized sexist statements and behavior that convey insulting or degrading attitudes about women and men.

This includes offensive conduct directed to you by your employer’s customers or vendors.Examples include insulting or condescending behavior towards women or men. job evaluation discipline. 3) the conditions of your employment are affected. III. termination. work assignments. offensive touching. wages. and 4) your employer is directly or indirectly responsible for the harassment. (Promotions. promotions. OR. environments that objectify women. obscene jokes or humor about sex or women in general.). These are known as “hostile work environment” claims and “quid pro quo claims. offensive gestures. Quid pro quo ( Latin for” this for that”) sexual harassment results when: Sexual favors are asked for or demanded of you by a supervisor or higher-level manager in exchange for employment benefits. vacation or sick leave benefits. TYPE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT? There are two forms of sexual harassment in employment which are illegal. etc. 2) the offenses are severe or pervasive. (I.” Hostile work environment sexual harassment results when either: You are the target of unwelcome sexually suggestive or demeaning comments. work schedules. or pornographic materials that are: 1) directed to you because of your gender status (the very fact that you are a female or a male. salesperson entertain clients with strippers).e. intimidating behaviors. hours. salary increases) . jokes or pranks. Your employer provides less favorable terms and conditions of employment to you than to your opposite sex co-workers simply because of your gender status (hiring procedures. repeated and unwelcome requests for dates.

and/or powerless they don't know how to report the harassment they think that their complaint won't be taken seriously they don't trust their own perceptions of what happened -. but it must be at least a substantial factor.maybe they "misunderstood" • • • • • • they don't want to "rock the boat" they are afraid of the harasser or others (such as the harasser's friends or family they don't trust "the system" they don't think their workplace will support them if they report the harassment they don't think their friends will support them they feel embarrassed . Your gender status doesn’t have to be the only reason you were singled out for this unfair treatment. Some of the reasons why victims don't report sexual harassment include: • • • • • they blame themselves they feel helpless. IV. hopeless. WHY PEOPLE DO NOT REPORT HARASSMENT? Some people do not believe that harassment is so common in today's society because many victims do not report the crime. Sex that is coerced because you fear you will lose your job or be punished at work if you don’t cooperate or because you are afraid or embarrassed can be a form of illegal harassment.Sexual relations can be voluntary without being welcome.

lower job satisfaction and higher absenteeism. .• they don't think that reporting will make any difference. On the other hand. particularly that of female employees. anger. If employees believe that sexual harassment is not being tackled in the organization this may lead to decreased job satisfaction and poorer physical health. It may also have an impact on employee turnover. damage to reputation and public image. they don't believe that anything will be done about the harassment or the harasser • • • they don't want to get the harasser into trouble they are prevented or blocked by sex role stereotyping they are prevented or blocked by victim behavior V. humiliation. by affecting their attitude towards work and even leading to psychosomatic problems. Those who have been harassed may experience illness. In some cases. and the cost of any compensation awards to sufferers of harassment who have taken a claim to employment tribunal. in both the short and long term. Sexual harassment may also lead to workplace problems such as decreased performance. loss of self confidence and psychological damage. The presence of sexual harassment within an organization may damage business performance due to low morale. the investigation of sexual harassment complaints may cause serious divisions between staff. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT? Sexual harassment can have a negative effect on the individual. it may lead to resignation. Observing someone else in the organization experience sexual harassment may also have a detrimental impact on an employee. lost productivity.

TECHNIQUES FOR PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT: There are three basic types of intervention that can be implemented by an organization to prevent or deal with sexual harassment: prevention. The consultative approach is advocated by researchers. monitoring and evaluation. whichever approach is adopted. training and awareness raising. Training can be used to raise awareness and understanding of sexual . Preventative actions: include the formation and adoption of a sexual harassment policy. There are two distinct approaches to policy formation: a 'top-down' and a 'consultative' approach. responding to sexual harassment where it does occur and follow-up in the aftermath of an investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment. VI.Given its potential impact on the health of those who have been harassed and its contribution to work-related stress for those involved both directly and indirectly. who emphasize the importance of including multiple stakeholders. sexual harassment is also a health and safety issue and has been recognized by the Health and Safety Executive as a potential health risk or hazard in organizations. A culture of respect has to be developed within an organization. including employee groups and trade unions. and a strong zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment is essential. This can also be seen as a 'bottom-up' approach. where staff and staff representatives are fully involved with management in developing and owning relevant policies and programs.

Few studies have looked at the effectiveness of training but those that exist suggest that it is particularly effective for changing men's attitudes. They should make it explicit that confidentiality will be maintained wherever possible and that employees bringing a complaint will be protected from victimization. Following an investigation of a complaint of sexual harassment. rehabilitation of the person who has been harassed. including the harasser and any witnesses or other colleagues who have been affected.harassment and to help equip individuals with the necessary skills to deal with it. VII. including support and counseling where required. Examination of how the harassment occurred and whether existing policies and procedures need amending. COMMON SENSE GUIDELINES FOR INDIVIDUALS CONSIDERING BRINGING A SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM: . Others will need to be reintegrated. are also necessary. if the alleged harasser is the manager of the person making the complaint. is essential. Making a complaint can be a very difficult procedure for an individual. especially if the organization does not have clear policies and procedures in place and similarly. as is often the case. Responses to sexual harassment when it has occurred include the complaints procedure within an organization and the identification of effective strategies for dealing with sexual harassment. Both a formal and informal route for reporting harassment are important.

Establish a record of solid job performance. theft or use of drugs or alcohol on the job or coming to work “under the influence” may make it difficult. 2. 6. to pursue your claim. make it clear to the harasser that the offensive behavior is in fact unwelcome. 5. Report your complaints of ongoing harassment to management and ask that steps be taken to eliminate such abuse. report the discrimination to your union and ask that they investigate and take appropriate action on your behalf. Do not set yourself up for the charge that you were doing personal business on company time. Make those notes during breaks or after work. Keep a written log of dates. Only make or keep copies of documents where you have your employer’s authorization to do so. Make your complaint known to a person with decision-making authority. where possible. tardiness. If it will not jeopardize your job or safety. follow them. have a trusted witness present when you make your complaint. 4. Try to get some evidence that the employer actually received your complaint and the date and time the complaint was made. sloppy work performance. . Keep a copy of the complaint you submit. acts of violence or threats of violence. times and witnesses. Obtaining records and information where you do not have such permission can get you fired and can defeat or limit your claim. A history of excessive absenteeism. If you are represented by a union.1. Be aware that your complaint will probably not be kept confidential. If your employer has established anti-discrimination procedures. 3. if not impossible. You are encouraged to make your complaints in writing and. and events you believe are significant to your potential claim.

11. don’t exaggerate. what. If you are given a written job evaluation. If you discuss your situation with sympathetic co-workers. If you are given a written disciplinary warning or notice. . etc. 8. inability to sleep. Keep a copy of your statement. depression. when.). you are entitled to a written statement explaining the basis for your termination. keep a copy of that document in your personal records. 12. Confide only in people you know for certain you can trust. where). ask for a copy and keep it. fear. If you are fired. Make notes of your physical and emotional responses to the harassment (loss of appetite. When you are making notes of what has happened: limit your notes to the facts (who.7. be accurate. don’t misrepresent what really happened. Ask for permission to have a witness present at any disciplinary meeting. have those conversations off the work premises and not on company time. You have a right to inspect your personnel file to ensure your statement was made part of your file. 9. If you have a written job description. If you don’t understand it. If you disagree with the content of the notice. ask to have your written statement setting out your view of the facts made a part of your employment file. don’t guess about the facts. do not sign it without carefully reading it and understanding what it says. 10. weight loss or gain. Good job evaluations are very helpful in overcoming a defendant employer’s claim that you were disciplined or terminated because the quality of your work or your work habits didn’t measure up to the company’s standards. ask questions.

education. make sure you understand how the lawyer is going to be paid and the rate of pay. employment. . clear summary of the highlights of your claim. Be prepared for the fact that when you make a claim for emotional distress. 14. Before you hire an attorney. If you consult with an attorney. You also need to understand what costs you will be charged in addition to the attorney fee.13. Prepare a brief. Records and information related to your health care. family life and any possible criminal history will be open to inspection by your employer’s attorney. which will be a significant part of your claim. you enhance the chance the attorney or legal staff will take greater interest in your case. you can expect the defendant will be entitled to access what would otherwise be private and confidential information about you. make the best use of the time available with the attorney by organizing your information neatly and in order by dates of the incidents. 15. If you make this effort.