Employers are not allowed to permit sexual harassment to occur in the workplace. There must be clear protocol for preventing this abuse, as well as addressing these issues when they do occur. Many different aspects relate to this employment-related atrocity.
Sexual harassment is forbidden based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to the federal government, labor organizations, employment agencies and employers that have 15 or more employees.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, explicit interactions or requests for sexual favors. It doesn't matter if the conduct impacts the person's ability to work. It only matters that it happens while they are working. It will typically create a hostile work environment due to intimidation and the offensive nature of these behaviors.
Who can be sexually harassed?
Any employee can be sexually harassed. It doesn't matter what position they hold in the company, what their gender is or what their sexual preference is. The same is true for the harasser. An employee can be harassed by a co-worker, supervisor, vendor, customer, company owner or any other person they come into contact with during the course of doing their job duties. The harasser and victim can be the same gender or opposite genders.
It is possible for a person to be a victim of sexual harassment, even if they weren't the party that was being harassed. Simply witnessing the event makes them a victim in these cases. Anyone who is a victim of sexual harassment can file a complaint about the incident, and the issue must be investigated thoroughly.
What options exist for addressing sexual harassment?
The company should try to separate the victim and the harasser, but they can't make it seem as though they are punishing the alleged harasser or the victim. This could mean moving one person to another shift or another location.
Once the investigation is complete, the harasser would need to be punished if it is found that they did harass the other person. This must be handled in a delicate manner because the employer can't defame the harasser.
Employers that don't address sexual harassment can have legal action taken against them. This can help the victims to ensure that they aren't falling by the wayside while the person who harasses them gets away with this reprehensible behavior.