In the last year, the #metoo movement has had a powerful impact on the employment landscape. Thousands of courageous sexual harassment victims around the country have come forward and spoken out against this pervasive problem. More than ever, society is sending a strong message that sexual harassment will have consequences.
If you’re contending with uninvited sexual behavior in the workplace, here are a few things you should know:
- Anyone can be a perpetrator.Workplace sexual harassment doesn’t have to refer to a manager taking advantage of their position of power to make unwanted sexual advances towards a lower-ranking employee. Anyone in a workplace can be guilty of degrading behavior towards a coworker—regardless of rank. In addition, if the employer is aware of such inappropriate behavior by anyone in the company—even a non-employee, such as a supplier—and tolerates this behavior, the employer can be held responsible for failing to create a safe workplace.
- Anyone can be a victim. Many people mistakenly assume that sexual harassment only happens to young, attractive women. Therefore, when someone who doesn’t fit this standard is victimized, they may be more likely to suffer in silence—expecting that no one will believe them if they come forward. It’s important to understand that sexual harassment can happen to men and women alike—regardless of age or looks.
- You have a deadline to take action. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you can report the incident to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, you have a limited amount of time to do so. The EEOC deadline varies by state. Often times the deadline is 180 days, but in some cases, you could have much as 300 days from the date of the violation.
Confronting a coworker about sexual harassment can be an uncomfortable thing to tackle on your own. An experienced employment attorney can give you valuable support and guidance through this process.