Sexual harassment can happen in all jobs and industries, and to both men and women. It is a serious offense, and yet 75% of people who experience sexual harassment in the workplace don't report it. One reason for that is that many don't know sexual harassment when they witness it. Alternatively, they don't understand that much of what they already know is a myth.
Myth: sexual harassment complaints can only be filed by women.
Although the vast majority of sexual harassment complaints are filed by women, that doesn't mean that men don't experience sexual harassment as well. Recently, more men have been standing up for their rights and filing sexual harassment suits. Don't believe the myth that sexual harassment is only a serious issue when experienced by women.
Myth: sexual harassment is the same as sexual assault.
Sometimes people don't report sexual harassment because they are afraid the infraction isn't severe enough. They may tell themselves that it's all in good fun or that they are being too sensitive and that it isn't a big deal. But just because someone isn't physically touching you doesn't mean you are not being sexually harassed. Sexual jokes, for example, can be considered harassment. If you feel in your gut that something is wrong, it probably is.
Myth: sexual harassment only has one definition.
The law has one definition, which boils down to "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile working environment." However, many workplaces have different, and potentially more strict, definitions. This means that someone could be abiding the law while simultaneously not abiding the policy of the company.
Myth: you need to report to your boss.
Although the boss is usually the person to turn to when there is a problem, there are many reasons why it might not be ideal to report the sexual harassment to the boss. A major reason for this would be if the boss is the one doing the harassment. People also may not feel comfortable discussing these issues with their boss for a multitude of reasons. It's okay to report to someone other than your boss, just make sure you go to someone who can take action.
Myth: all harassment claims bring about a charge.
More than half of sexual harassment complaints don't bring a charge. If a complaint is filed at the workplace, the offender might face disciplinary action, sexual harassment training, movement to a new position, or there may not be enough evidence to do anything.
What you can do
It's very important that you keep everything in writing, to avoid a situation where there is not enough evidence. If you feel that a sexual harassment complaint wasn't handled properly, it's important to see an experienced attorney who can fight for your rights.
Sexual harassment is a real problem that should not go unreported. If you are having issues with sexual harassment in your workplace, it's very important that you speak up for your rights, take action and hire an experienced attorney.