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Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace is the act of making unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances, making requests for sexual favors, any conduct that can be deemed as sexual, whether it is verbal or physical, or any other provocations that can be considered sexual in nature towards a co-worker while on, or off, the job.

It is estimated that more than one in three women has been sexually harassed in the workplace, many of them forced into sexual relationships with men who have the power to promote them, demote them, or to fire them. In many cases, women feel totally helpless knowing that their livelihoods are in jeopardy or, if they file a complaint, they will be ostracized by their male counterparts.

Although the specter of workplace sexual misconduct has been brought to forefront in recent years, the problem still exists in many areas, especially in small businesses and in larger companies where lower level employees don't have the power to get the attention of the media or aren't in a position to make their complaints known.

To be fair, sexual harassment is not confined to women. Many men have reported sexual harassment in the workplace as well, from both male and female bosses and co-workers.

Inappropriate behavior that can be taken as sexual harassment can take other forms such as repeated requests for dates, flirting, ogling, leering, innuendos, and unwanted touching. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the bottom, a blown kiss, a wink, or a provocative stare can all be taken as harassment.

Dirty jokes and stories may be exchanged and tolerated by some employees but others make not be inclined to think they are funny. Sexually explicit pictures, books, magazines, and internet pornography can lead to complaints about sexual misconduct.

Sexual harassment interferes with an employee's ability to perform necessary job functions in his or her work environment. It is considered, in many cases, hostile, offensive, intimidating, and demeaning.

In most companies, sexual harassment is frowned upon and drastic action is usually taken if an employee is deemed guilty of such acts. This is true for all levels of employment in a company, from hourly employees all the way up to top managerial personnel.

No one should be immune from tough disciplinary actions, especially if there is an implicit threat to another employee concerning termination of employment, negative career advancement, or any other factors relating to employment status.

In most cases, if it is proven that an employee was threatened with termination if he or she refuses sexual advances, the one doing the harassing is given tough disciplinary action that may include a demotion or complete termination. All employees should refrain from inappropriate behavior towards a co-worker while at work or off the premises.

If you believe that you are being sexually harassed by anyone, a co-worker, manager, customer, client, or vendor, you should report it immediately to management or your Human Resources Department.

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