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Sexual Harassment at Work

Earlier this week, Spark News discussed how age discrimination can really harm an employee and their work. However prevalent it may be in the office though, age discrimination is not the only kind of issues that can arise in the workplace. The offices of companies are usually very interesting because there are so many diverse personalities working together for a common goal. It’s inevitable that some personalities will clash and others will mesh really well together. This is normal and expected, but every once in a while there is someone in the office that crosses the comfort zone and makes others feel uncomfortable. They may even edge on the border of sexually harassing you. This shouldn’t be something anyone should have to deal with in the office.

Sexual harassment is a way to discriminate someone based on their sex. By definition, it is the persistent unwelcome directing of sexual remarks and looks, and unnecessary physical contact at a person. Unfortunately, women are usually on the receiving end of sexual harassment and it can create a hostile and uncomfortable environment for workers in the office. It’s important to remember though that even if the most common forms of sexual harassment are male to female, there are certainly instances of female to male and same sex harassment as well. Just because most cases happen to be male to female doesn’t mean that it can’t happen the other way or that it is less legit if it does. On top of that, sexual harassment doesn’t have to be overtly sexual. It can simply be a remark or action made to discriminate you because of your sex. For instance, Fox News small business gave the example of a female manager sexually harassing a male. Aleicia Latimer, associate general counsel at AlphaStaff Group, a human resources outsourcing firm was quoted saying, “The classic version of a female manager’s harassment of men is, ‘I only take the ladies out to lunch and I don’t take men. We make jokes.’” This isn’t overtly sexual, as you would imagine sexual harassment to be, but it is still sexual harassment and not OK.

No matter what kind of form of sexual harassment it is, if you experience it you should deal with it swiftly. It can be difficult to make light of the situation to others because it likely makes you feel uncomfortable, but if you ignore the problem it will only persist; it could even get worse. That is why you should take action right away. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently, so you need to decide if you feel you are being sexually harassed or not. If you are unsure or something someone in your office does simply makes you uncomfortable then perhaps discussing it with them first is a good idea for you. If it’s a small issue that can be handled between the two of you, then see if you can take care of it. If it is a bigger issue and the offender is clearly sexually harassing you, then you need to go to your employer. If there has been a number of complaints from other employees about this person and the employer does nothing, then it’s a big problem.

It is the employer’s and/or the manager’s job to deal with situations like this. They need to deal with it fast because the office environment can take a turn for the worse if they don’t. It’s also important to state the obvious in that sexual harassment is illegal. If your employer does not take action against it when they are informed, it can mean legal issues for them and the company. Make sure you know what your company’s policy is for dealing with and handling sexual harassment and make sure your employers are following it. Sexual harassment is not something that should be taken lightly and it’s important for employers to have a policy on how to deal with it if it ever comes about. As an employee, you need to know your rights and when someone is crossing the line.

Sexual harassment is unfortunately pretty common in the office. Have you ever had to take action against someone for it?

SOURCE: Fox News Small Business
IMAGE: Courtesy of Web Pro News

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter