Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Beginning with the many accusations against Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment in the work place has been a main headline in the news. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favor, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment also includes offensive remarks about a person’s sex which do not necessarily have to be comments of a sexual nature. The sex of the victim and harasser does not matter.
From an employee’s standpoint – if you are being sexually harassed at work the first thing to do is to tell the person to that is harassing you that their conduct makes you uncomfortable. If the harassment does not stop, report the harassment to human resources or to a supervisor and allow the company to do an investigation. If the company does not do an investigation, then you can file a complaint with the EEOC alleging discrimination on the basis of sex. You must allow the company a chance to correct the issue before filing a complaint.
Employers do not want EEOC charges. The best way to avoid an EEOC charge on the basis of harassment is to take all complaints seriously and do thorough investigations.
We would also advise that employers place a strong emphasis on the prevention of charges and complaints in the first place. Employers should have a clear policy against sexual harassment or harassment of any type that is given to each employee when they begin work and that is reviewed annually.
On a final note, the best way to avoid being the subject of a sexual harassment complaint is to treat fellow employees with respect and follow the Golden Rule – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”