Sexual harassment is a serious problem in some workplaces, but what one person believes is harassment may not actually be. It is important that employers understand what is or is not sexual harassment so that they can take action to avoid claims.
It’s your job as an employer to make sure that your employees are well-trained in recognizing and reporting sexual harassment. If you take action to make that happen, then the likelihood of an issue in your workplace can be minimized.
Even then, one of your employees may come to you with a complaint. If that happens, you need to know if the situation is or is not something that you should be worried about.
What isn’t sexual harassment?
What is sexual harassment, as well as what isn’t, is somewhat of a gray area. Lewd jokes can be considered to be harassment, as can remarks about another person’s body. Even something as minor as a sexy calendar in a workers’ private office could trigger complaints.
What typically won’t be sexual harassment? Here’s an example of a situation that wouldn’t likely be considered as sexual harassment.
A coworker who just started at the company asks another one in the office if they’d like to go out and get coffee with her. The other coworker agrees, but when they realized that they’d been asked on a date, they declined. The other coworker accepted the other person’s decision.
A few days later, they complimented the person on their suit for a special event. The coworker complained that they were being harassed, but nothing sexual was said. It was a polite comment and they hadn’t tried to pursue further conversation.
This kind of example of what one person might believe is sexual harassment but that may not constitute harassment is important for employers to understand. As an employer, you can step in and attempt to clear the air in these situations, such as by putting in a policy to restrict workplace relationships.
It’s your job to make your workplace a safe, harassment-free work area. If there are questions about harassment in the workplace, it’s a good choice to look into the laws and make sure you understand what harassment is or isn’t.