Is This A New Era Of Sexual Harassment Awareness?
The “Me Too” movement that has swept the nation over the last few years, bringing awareness to a problem that many people chose to ignore. The movement, highlighted by many elites in Hollywood and entertainment, has uncovered so many inequities in the workplace that we are left wondering – why is this still such a problem in 2019? We do know that workplace sexual harassment is no longer something that can be ignored or simply “swept under the rug” by coworkers or management.
This movement has been highlighted by those who have access to a large platform: movie stars, singers, politicians. Now it is time for everyone who has faced or is facing sexual harassment at work to have a voice.
Being sexually harassed in the workplace is something nobody should go through, regardless of how much money they make.
In The Workplace
The problem has been that, for so long, many people have brushed off workplace sexual harassment as just an inconvenience. People who experience this harassment do not want to disrupt the workplace. Worse, they do not want to lose their jobs for reporting the harassment. This leaves the victims in a position they feel they cannot get out of.
The damages of experiencing workplace sexual harassment are multifaceted. First and foremost, this can cause extreme emotional and psychological damage for victims which will affect their work performance and personal life. Eventually, their ability to earn an income could be compromised because they may feel that their only option is to quit.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Studies show that as much as 27% of American adult women have been sexually harassed at work and that 74% of adults say their companies take workplace sexual harassment seriously.
Why is that number not 100%?
Federal law has defined sexual harassment in the workplace since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The law protects employees from:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
Most people think of physical contact when it comes to workplace sexual harassment. This is true. Any unwanted contact in the workplace is sexual harassment. However, this behavior is more than just physical. It goes beyond that to more subtle actions.
- It might be someone standing close to you constantly.
- It might be comments like “Wow, that dress shows your curves.”
- Perhaps it is a coworker who sends you inappropriate text messages.
- Stalking behavior, whether physical or digital, often occurs as well.
That is all sexual harassment. If you are not sure about whether or not what you are experiencing is sexual harassment, speak with a qualified attorney.
If It Happens To You
In the past, people who were victims of workplace sexual harassment were often afraid to speak up. Now, we are moving to a place where victims will be heard and perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions. The “Me Too” movement is empowering women and men across the country to take a stand.
You have more than one option available to you. First, you should file a claim with both the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (within 300 days of the incident) as well as the Civil Rights Division of the Arizona Office of Attorney General (within 180 days of the incident).
In many cases, this will not offer a resolution to your situation. If that is the case, or if the harassment is at a level that needs to be taken care of on a different stage, filing a lawsuit with the help of a qualified and experienced attorney may be the best option.
Click here for information on Arizona law on personnel files.