You may have run into sexual harassment through a personal encounter. On the other hand, you may have been exposed to name-calling or a risqué comment or picture that coworkers distributed online. The situation, however it developed, may have caught you by surprise because your company has sexual harassment training in place.
As far back as 1989, the Supreme Court affirmed that sexual harassment is illegal. But if you have been the target of offensive behavior, you know the problem nevertheless exists within your company despite the existence of a training program.
The two forms of sexual harassment
The kind of sexual harassment that turns up most often in the workplace is the quid pro quo variety, where your supervisor or manager promises you a promotion or some other work-related benefit in return for a sexual favor. The other kind has to do with creating a hostile work environment through sexual banter, the passing around of risqué cartoons, off-color jokes and the like. Anyone might initiate this offensive behavior, and there may be repeated incidents that make your work environment very uncomfortable.
How training should be handled
Management should require attendance in sexual harassment training for all new hires when they report for their first day or work. Everyone should be informed of the company’s policy and examples given of behavior that is unacceptable. Company-wide annual refresher training is also a good idea. Programs of this sort are shown to be effective in cutting down on offensive conduct, but unfortunately, it still occurs.
Registering a complaint
You are certainly within your rights to inform management of sexual harassment. If there is a human relations department, this is the perfect place to report a complaint. If you have become the target of threats or if you have been denied a promotion or even lost your job because you would not accede to the sexual demands of a supervisor, your next step is to reach out for legal assistance. An attorney experienced with cases involving workplace harassment is standing by to help.