Although many folks are working from home remotely, sexual harassment can still be experienced virtually. Whether within a current workplace, or on professional networking platforms, sexual harassment can be experienced in a variety of ways. With that in mind, here’s some information on rights, resources, and definitions of sexual harassment to reference for yourself or share with others.
What Data Tells Us
In challenging all of the harmful messaging we are exposed to around sex, gender, and relationships, we can reimagine what commonly is seen as healthy vs. not, by educating ourselves and our peers, and challenging myths and stereotypes around relationships, connections, and sexual violence that aren’t true.
To take a deeper dive into unpacking what sexual harassment looks like, it feels important to unpack some data, laws, and definitions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.
Based on data from 2018 Labor Statistics Current Population Survey (155,761 total surveyed), 14.23% of sexual harassment charges filed from 2005-2015 were within the accommodation and food services industry, followed by 13.44% in retail. That’s roughly 1,595 reports in accommodation and food services and 1,597 reports in retail. In other words, sexual harassment is happening and is common.
Know Your Title VII
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964 and made it unlawful to discriminate in employment based upon race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination which violates Title VII. It is also unlawful to retaliate against someone making a complaint of sexual harassment.
Defining Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a pattern of actions or a severe act of sexual (i.e. “cat-calling”) and/or sexist (i.e. comments on someone’s gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation) behavior, that is unwanted or unwelcome. What is defined as sexual harassment is in the eye of the beholder: if the target of this behavior views it as unwanted, it is crossing the line.
Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Using your bystander intervention skills to support those experiencing harassment are critical. Remember the 3 D’s of intervention: “Direct, Distract, Delegate.”
Boundary setting can also be a tool for negotiating professional relationships and clarifying expectations:
- Communicate your boundaries
- Address issues early and proactively
- Continue to talk about your expectations and reinforce
- Involve others if issue continues or escalates
If you or someone else are negotiating experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace, here are some things to keep in mind as information to have when seeking supportive resources (particularly, an advocate).
- Documentation (in planner or digital calendar, saving texts/messages, etc.)
- note behavior, impact on productivity, and/or anyone else who may have witnessed behavior
- Connect with an advocate
- Talk to your supervisor
- Notify family, friends, and others in your support network to create a community safety plan.
Know Your Resources
- Human Resources – make an internal company complaint
- Local sexual violence resource crisis center
- In the US
- Statewide Coalition
- Member center local to the area you work in
- Pathways to Safety
- In the US
- Other national hotlines specific to country you’re working in
- US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – file a formal complaint
- Times Up Legal Defense Fund – apply for funding for legal support and get connected to resources in accessing the media
For any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sending light and positive energy to you all.