Do you Know What Activities Constitute Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Many employers believe that sexual harassment has to involve coercing an employee physically, verbally or otherwise to have sexual relations with him or her. However, that is just one action that could lead to a legal action against your workplace. The majority of sexual harassment complaints that are filed in California, have to do with other types of behavior that supervisors, managers, other employees, and even you may not have realized constitute sexual harassment.
For instance, allegations of sexual harassment can be made in any of the following cases.
When an employee/supervisor/manager makes repeated sexually explicit or obscene jokes in front of other employees,
When an employee in your workplace makes sexual comments that specifically target one person, or gender,
When an employee circulates sexually explicit e-mails, memos, letters, notes, images, photographs, facsimile copies, scans, or even SMS messages,
When an employee makes romantic overtures to another employee,
When an employee makes and distributes sexually demeaning cartoons, images, or posters in the workplace,
When employees make physically harassing moves towards another employee- (this can include brushing against another employee, taking chances to come into physical contact with another employee, frequently touching, or patting. You may assume that a encouraging pat on the shoulder is innocent, but that is not how a female employee may take it).
In more serious case of sexual harassment, employees may allege that they were asked to provide sexual favors in return for promotions, concessions at work or even to land the job. They may also allege that they were intimidated, threatened or placed under pressure to provide sexual favors.
In a diverse environment, making off-color jokes may seem like an innocent pastime, but that is not necessarily how other employees, especially female employees, will take it.
Litigation-proof your workplace. Make sure that all managers and supervisors at every stage are trained to recognize subtle signs of sexual harassment, and are trained to step in and report these actions when they see them. You don’t have to wait for a complaint of sexual harassment to be made to take action. When you find actions in your workplace that clearly have litigation potential, step in to discipline the offending worker, and make sure that such actions will not be tolerated.