Facts About Sexual Harassment in a Workplace
Sexual harassment is not just a personal violation or an abuse of power, it is also a form of discrimination. Specifically, it is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since sexual harassment violates so many laws and norms, it is a very serious accusation that should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, when someone is a victim of sexual harassment, they are often too afraid or intimidated to speak up and report this transgression.
The reason is that they are usually worried about the negative repercussions it can have on their life or their career. That is why anyone who is a victim of sexual harassment should contact an attorney like Lawyer Spivak. They will fight for you and do their best to ensure that your life is not ruined by bringing such an accusation forward.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of sexual abuse and can come in many different forms, some subtle and some overt. Sexual harassment covers a broad range of behaviors that includes the following:
- An attempted or completed nonconsensual sexual act
- Threats of sexual abuse or sexual violence
- Creating a hostile work environment by telling jokes or sharing material that makes coworkers uncomfortable
- Quid pro quo harassment, which means that a superior asks for sexual favors from their subordinate in exchange for either a promotion or as a prevention of termination
These acts can be perpetrated by, or towards, men or women. The harasser can be the victim’s direct supervisor, a coworker, someone who works for the employer, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the target of the harassment, anyone affected by the offensive conduct can claim that they were harassed. The person does not have to suffer termination or financial penalties to be considered a victim of harassment.
How Does Sexual Harassment Affect The Victims?
The main cost of sexual harassment to victims is that it can lower their morale, affect their job performance, and prevent them from advancing in their careers. It can lead to serious mental conditions like depression or even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and those conditions can last for years even after the abuse has stopped.
Unemployment or the abandonment of a well-paying job for a lower-paying one is also a concern. That is because reporting harassment or refusing sexual advances can lead to employee termination or the victim deciding to quit their job. In that case, they may end up unemployed or they may be forced to accept a job that is beneath their skill level.
How Does Sexual Harassment Affect Companies?
The companies where sexual harassment occurs are negatively affected as well. The main concern is the legal costs, which can be substantive; even if the company wins a sexual harassment lawsuit, it could cost them hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars to do so. The costs increase substantially if they end up losing.
Sexual harassment could also affect the company financially via lowered productivity. Victims of sexual harassment may not perform to their full potential if their morale is low because they are being harassed. If the victim feels like their concerns are being ignored by the company, their motivation and commitment to their job would understandably be lowered. This malaise could easily spread to other employees, which would result in reduced productivity and lower profits.
Employee turnover is another concern because the company could lose several valuable employees because of harassment. It is not just the victims of sexual harassment that could end up leaving, other employees who learn about the harassment and are unwilling to work for an employer that tolerates that kind of behavior could leave as well.
How To Fight Sexual Harassment
The best way to fight sexual harassment is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. That means that employers should foster a workplace culture that treats everyone equally, encourages bystander intervention, and takes the concerns of victims seriously. If the harassment does happen, then the victim should tell the harasser that they should stop and that their behavior is unwanted. If that does not work, then they should use whatever grievance system their employer affords them.
When all else fails, legal recourse is the only option, so the victim should retain a lawyer that is well-versed in sexual harassment cases to represent them. Sexual harassment is unlawful and the attorney will fight for the victim in order to ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve and to protect them from any unfair retaliation.