In these articles we are looking at sexual harassment. When looking at surveys done over the past 10yrs around 50% of all women in work have suffered some sort of sexual harassment. That is a very disappointing figure. That means you your mother or your daughter or wife could be suffering on a daily basis. Of course there is male sexual harassment but it is an issue predominantly faced by women.
Sexual harassment constitutes any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. It's not about fun or friendship but about the abuse of power. It is also worth bearing in mind that many people respond to situations in different ways. What may seem like an innocent action or remark to one person may be deemed offensive by another and the law sides with the 'victim' not the 'perpetrator'. Since there is no single definition, the test is how the recipient feels about the behaviour. Whilst men can also be subject to sexual harassment, the vast majority of cases have been by women against men. It is estimated that 50% of women in employment are, or have been, subject to sexual harassment of some form or other. It doesn't just happen to women who work in large offices or those who work within a predominantly male working environment; it can happen to people in any occupation, to any age group and from every community.
Sexual harassment can be a difficult subject for a company to deal with, but that’s not your problem you just want it to stop. In many circumstances women can be nervous about reporting incidents of sexual harassment as, one they may not be believed or have no witnesses, two worry about the blow back especially if the harasser is more senior to her.
If you’re feeling sexually harassed there are some steps you can take.
In the first instance, you should try to confront the harasser. It may be that their perception of harassment is not the same as yours and they didn't realise you found their behaviour offensive.
Speak up straight away. It may be that you choose a confidante, a colleague or union representative to give you moral support. They could also act as a witness to any incidents of improper behaviour.
If you feel you can't confront the harasser face to face, you might prefer to write to them to explain that their behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable and that you want it to stop. Keep a copy of the letter and let them know that if their behaviour persists, you will take the matter further.
Note down all the behaviour that offends you, the dates, times and location where the behaviour took place and if there were any other people present, keep a record of their names. This will help you if you need to make an official complaint.
Once you've confronted the perpetrator, if the behaviour continues you need to tell your employer. Many employers have a procedure - follow it. Your employer should investigate your complaint and deal with it. You have the right to take someone with you to any meetings about your complaint. They can back you up if necessary. Once again, keep a written record of everything that happens.
If you feel that you need advice or support in dealing with harassment, victimisation or bullying at work then please firstname.lastname@example.org and,