As an employee, one of the most challenging situations you can come up against is finding yourself subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. Some forms of sexual harassment are subtler than others. Indeed, many people may not even be aware that they are considered to be sexual harassment. However, the law is there to protect you should you find yourself the victim of any form of sexual harassment. Here, we cover the most relevant of FAQs about sexual harassment we are asked.
What is sexual harassment at work in San Diego?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted behavior that is of a sexual nature. It can take many forms, the most obvious being any form of inappropriate touching, pinching, patting, rubbing or even brushing up against someone suggestively. A few other examples would be discussions of a sexual nature, sharing of inappropriate images or comments about a person’s body.
Sexual harassment is the type of behavior that violates a person’s dignity and can make them feel humiliated, intimidated or even degraded. It can create a hostile environment where the person who was sexually harassed no longer feels comfortable. It is important to remember that it is also sexual harassment even if a person has not previously objected to the person’s behavior before. Perhaps most important to remember is that sexual harassment happens to men as well as women.
Facts and figures about sexual harassment at work in San Diego
The statistics for sexual harassment are staggering, and with the rise of the #MeToo and #Time’sUp campaigns that have been so visible in the media it is clear to see that this is a problem that affects far too many all over the globe. Recent studies have found that a staggering 81% of women nationwide have found themselves being subjected to sexual harassment at some point in their lives, with 51% reporting that they have been groped or touched inappropriately without permission.
And it isn’t just women, 43% of men also reported that they had been subjected to sexual harassment at some point as well. With the workplace being one of the top three places that sexual harassment is reported as taking place it would seem this is a huge problem.
10 Frequently asked questions about sexual harassment in the workplace
1.What can I do if I am being sexually harassed?
In the first instance, you should tell the person who is harassing you to stop. If they persist, then you should report the harassment to your supervisor or to HR.
2.Can I compliment someone?
Yes, you can give compliments to your co-workers, The issue is knowing where the line is between a compliment and what could be considered sexual harassment. It’s okay to compliment a new item of clothing, but it is less acceptable to compliment the way a new item of clothing highlights certain parts of a person’s figure.
3.Can I date a co-worker?
While it is usually acceptable to date a co-worker, there are some things that you should consider. Awkward situations can occur in the event of a breakdown of the relationship, and these can often lead to issues with other co-workers. Dating a supervisor, while permissible, is not advisable. Such a situation can lead to the belief that the supervisor may “play favorites” and can make life difficult with other co-workers.
4.My male boss always yells at me and is unreasonable with demanding too much work, is this sexual harassment?
While this is certainly not excellent management from your boss, it is not sexual harassment unless comments or actions of a sexual nature occur.
5. My employee is complaining of sexual harassment in San Diego, what should I do?
Ensure your employee that you will take the matter seriously and look into it, together with making any appropriate follow up where necessary. Discuss the options with your employee – a formal investigation or informal handling of the matter may be preferable. Advise them of any resources such as counselling that may be available to them.
6.What should I do if an employee is being harassed by someone who doesn’t work for the company – a vendor, or client?
You may need to have a conversation with the person committing the sexual harassment, advising them of the inappropriate nature of their behavior. This might result in a request for them to leave your premises. In the case of a vendor you should report their behavior to their supervisor, so the matter can be followed up. You should follow up the matter with your employee and follow company procedure to make sure they have any help they require.
7.What happens if there are no witnesses to the sexual harassment?
Even in San Diego cases where there are no witnesses the employer still has a duty of care to conduct an investigation and talk to all involved parties.
8.Can an individual be sued for sexual harassment?
It is not uncommon for a person who has been accused of sexual harassment in San Diego to be sued personally
9.What records should I make in a case of sexual harassment?
Document everything. Detail discussions with employees, including both parties, including any dates and times. Document anything that you have witnessed as well. Encourage the complainant to keep records of any incidents that have occurred.
10.Someone at work keeps asking me out – how do I say no without offending them?
Be polite, and just say no. Make sure you don’t leave room for misunderstanding in your answer. For example, don’t say “no, not today”. While you might think this softens the blow it leaves the suggestion that you might say yes another time.
What to do if you’ve been sexually harassed in San Diego
If, after reading these FAQs about sexual harassment you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, even if you think it is only mild harassment you should report it. If your company has an HR department, then your first port of call would be to discuss it with them. Try to be clear on the details of any incidents that have occurred. If these incidents have taken the form of written harassment, then you could take these with you to HR. They should have a policy in place to deal with any complaints of sexual harassment.
If you do not have an HR department, then you should approach your line manager or boss to discuss the issue. Unfortunately, this can be tricky if the harassment has been perpetrated by your boss – as you will probably not feel comfortable discussing it. In this instance, it would be better to seek legal advice.
Contact Walker Law if you have a case
If you believe that you have a case for sexual harassment in the workplace, then contact Walker Law today. As a specialist employment law attorney based in San Diego, we will be able to give you professional advice to help take your case forward.