You go on the interview and the person asking you questions about your job skills suddenly turns things up a notch. Or, you are at work and one of your co-workers, perhaps your boss, begins showing you unwanted attention. In either scenario, what do you do?
Unfortunately, countless individuals have had to endure both situations, and even worse ones over the years.
While men tend to be the ones initiating sexual harassment, don’t for one second think that such actions are those of a male-only club. There are also those women that will turn the heat up on a male interviewing for a job or working in their office.
According to data for the year 2010 from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers who failed to protect their businesses from sexual harassment claims placed with the agency recovered damages with settlements in total surpassing $48.4 million.
So whether the harassment takes place as one has an interview for a position or while on the clock at their place of employment, there are signs to look for and steps to be taken in order to battle the problem.
Among the things to keep an eye out for:
- Sexual harassment comes in many different forms – Sexual harassment can be happening right before your eyes when belittling comments are directed toward a person regarding their appearance, clothing, jewelry and more;
- Pictures tell the story – Having provocative images of people on one’s walls, desk etc. are offensive and are another form of sexual harassment. Whether it is during the interview process or while working, you have every right to call such displays into question;
- Direct hostility from an individual – If your gender is singling you out for persecution, this is another means of sexual harassment. Such forms include direct hostility, being overlooked for a promotion due to gender, etc;
- Inappropriate touching – Although it seems rather obvious, a co-worker inappropriately touching you, invading your space and making you feel altogether uncomfortable can easily be viewed as sexual harassment.
In the event you feel you have been the victim of sexual harassment either on a job interview or while under someone’s employment, there are steps that can be taken to solve the problem.
- Dealing directly with the abuser, informing them that their actions are offensive and must cease. If they do not stop, you will pursue the matter with the individual’s supervisor;
- Getting in touch with a supervisor and reporting the situation, providing as much detail as possible to support the claim/s. If you do this, provide any evidence like statements, written documents, photos etc. Make sure you have solid notes in writing in the event you are questioned on the claims down the road;
- In the event a supervisor is not of assistance, go to their superior and broach the subject with them. Don’t become discouraged if one person shows little interest in pursuing the matter, keep fighting;
- If those highest up in the company decide not to deal with the matter, seek outside help from an agency in place to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, even if you were just interviewing for a job. Choosing to do nothing about it lets the perpetrator/s get away with it, leading them to likely continue such actions.
While it can be intimidating at times to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace or when seeking work, letting sexual harassment actions go unpunished is not only a crime, but a knock against the many hard-working women (and men in some cases) that decide to take a stand.
Photo credit: abovethelaw.com
Dave Thomas, who discusses subjects such as HR outsourcing services and payroll processing services, writes extensively for San Diego-based Business.com.