All of your employees have the right to fair treatment. None of them deserve harassment or sex-based discrimination. Sexual harassment occurs towards people due to their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy.
According to the EEOC, sexual harassment can occur on all levels. The harasser can be a subordinate employee, a co-worker, a supervisor or a client.
What is sexual harassment?
Some cases of sexual harassment are easy to identify. For instance, if you have a supervisor that requests sexual favors from a subordinate employee or makes inappropriate remarks about his or her body, this is textbook sexual harassment. Staff cannot make verbal or physical sexual advances against your employees.
Sexual harassment can also include making offensive remarks toward a person because of his or her gender, sexual orientation or pregnancy. Offensive behavior can occur between people of any gender or sexuality. While light teasing and occasional minor comments may not necessarily be harassment, you should not allow any of it within the workplace. Sexual harassment becomes illegal when it becomes so severe that it creates an offensive and hostile environment.
How do you approach sexual harassment in the workplace?
If you become aware of sexual harassment, you must act as quickly as possible. Once you know that the harassment occurs, you become liable if you do nothing to stop it.
To stop harassment, you can discipline the harasser through termination. Work with the victim to ensure his or her experience within your company is still comfortable. Your staff should feel safe coming to you with a report of sexual harassment.
All employment policies should affect every person of every sex the same.