There’s a common misconception that workplace sexual harassment only affects women, especially those who work in male-dominated industries. In reality, sexual harassment affects both men and women. When it occurs on the job, workers often find it difficult to speak up while management may struggle to respond appropriately. Whether you work in construction or general industry, all employers and employees in the United States must understand what sexual harassment is and how they may be affected by relevant laws. Here, the ClickSafety team explains everything you need to know.
Sexual Harassment Defined
Classified as a form of sex discrimination, sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, unsolicited requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal or physical behaviors. Beyond sexual intentions, sexual harassment also includes any offensive remark about an employee’s sex, and can be categorized as follows:
- Quid pro quo harassment
- Hostile work environment
Regardless of type, this harassment violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars employment discrimination pertaining to race, national origin, religion, and sex.
Sexual Harassment Response Best Practices
Stopping sexual harassment and preventing future occurrences is challenging for workers and management alike. By adhering to the best practices outlined below, you can help ensure your company treats all team members fairly and maintains a supportive environment that’s free of harassment.
Employee Response to Sexual Harassment
If you’re an employee and a victim of sexual harassment, remember you are not alone. Additionally, you have several reporting options. Document your experience, including the location, time, date, witnesses present, and any other details about the harasser’s behavior. You should also note how the harassment affected your productivity on the job.
To report sexual harassment, check your employer’s handbook or other documentation for sexual harassment policies. Follow these instructions and be sure to submit all complaints in writing. Provide the documentation noted above when you speak with a supervisor or human resources representative.
You may also file a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC can provide resources and additional insight into your situation. You are not required to have legal representation to file a complaint with the EEOC. However, act quickly. All workers have 180 calendar days from the sexual harassment incident to make a claim.
Employers Responding to Sexual Harassment
The best response to sexual harassment begins before offensive behavior occurs. It pays to have effective sexual harassment policies in place, which deter harassing behavior and give victims peace of mind when reporting harassment. Because many victims fear retaliation from coworkers and/or management, your policies should clearly state that retaliatory decreases in pay, termination, and other actions are illegal and will not occur.
Training is another key resource for sexual harassment prevention and appropriate responses from all levels of your team. State and local regulations for employer sexual harassment training in the private sector vary, but current state-level standards include:
- California: Companies of all sizes must comply by 1/1/21
- Connecticut: Companies of all sizes must comply by 10/1/20
- Delaware: Companies with 50+ employees must comply as of 1/1/20
- Illinois and New York: Companies of all sizes must comply
- New York City and Maine: Companies with 15+ employees must comply
Lead the Way with ClickSafety
There’s no excuse for sexual harassment, and at ClickSafety, we’re proud to offer comprehensive training to educate employees and employers about their rights and obligations. Our current online sexual harassment training courses include:
Each course explains acceptable workplace behavior and prepares professionals to promote a safer, harassment-free environment. Learn more about sexual harassment prevention and reporting best practices today – contact us online or call 800-971-1080 for more information.