Sexual harassment has served as a constant problem in workplaces across the country for as long as workplaces have existed. However, the way sexual harassment takes place often changes with generations and time.
What does sexual harassment look at a modern workplace? How can workers identify it if it happened to them?
PHYSICAL VS. NON-PHYSICAL HARASSMENT
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses sexual harassment in the workplace. Of course, many cases of sexual harassment that see a lot of news and media coverage involve sexual assault or even rape. These physical cases garner a lot of attention, but actually make up a smaller percentage of overall sexual harassment cases than one may expect.
A large portion of these cases involves non-physical sexual harassment. What is this, though? In short, any form of coercion or threat to get one person to perform a sexual act counts as sexual harassment, even if the act never takes place. In short, nothing physical needs to happen for a person to file a report on sexual harassment.
TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENTS
Another example involves creating a toxic work environment through gossip and rumors. Specifically creating rumors that center around or target a person’s sexuality, gender or sex life can count as sexual harassment, especially if it creates an environment that disallows a person from working normally.
Finally, even derogatory comments based on gender can count as sexual harassment. This goes for both genders and can include classic sexist remarks that also contribute to toxic environments.
If a worker experiences any of these situations, they should consider what steps they can take next to combat it.