Sexual Harassment: How You May Be Affected
Sexual harassment is when a coworker says or does something sexual that makes you uncomfortable. Sexual harassment denies coworkers the mutual respect needed for a healthy workplace. If you’re the victim of sexual harassment, you may feel violated or intimidated. You may also be afraid to speak out because of how it might affect your job or career.
The victim and harasser can be any gender. The harasser can also be the same gender as the victim. The harasser can be a coworker, supervisor, or supervisor in some other area. They can even be someone who is not an employee, such as a client or customer. While the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, if the harassment occurs so often that it causes a hostile or offensive workplace, it is against the law.
Is the victim at fault? No. But even so, the victim’s self-worth may be shaken. Many people try to prevent future incidents by staying away from the harasser or changing the way they dress. If the harassment doesn’t stop, victims may become anxious, fearful, angry, or depressed. These emotions can lead to other health problems.
Victims of sexual harassment tend to be less focused at work. They may also be less productive. They may be late to work more often. They may even skip work and be absent. Other employees are also affected. Those who witness or hear about the harassment may feel angry or confused. Conflict and unease between employees may increase.
Recognizing sexual harassment
You may not be sure if you are being sexually harassed by another person. It depends on how that person’s actions make you feel. Do their actions make you uncomfortable? Ask yourself these questions:
Is the person making sexual jokes? Does this person talk about sexual situations when they are with me?
Does the person ask me about my sex life?
Does the person force their attentions on me? For instance, does this person keep asking me to go on a date?
Does the person have cartoons, photos, or other things in their workspace that might be viewed as sexually offensive?
Does the person invade my personal space? For instance, does this person stand too close or touch me when talking?
Does the person tease me to such a degree that it interferes with my sense of safety, self-esteem, or work performance?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing sexual harassment.