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Unwanted advances can create a hostile work environment

It is flattering when someone finds you attractive. Like many people, you may like to hear a coworker compliment you on your clothing, your smile or some recent change you have made in your appearance. However, there is a line that your coworkers should not cross.

When someone at work finds you attractive, he or she may ask you out on a date. It may seem innocent enough, but when does it become sexual harassment? Some businesses are setting guidelines for office dating. If your workplace does not have such policies, you and others may be at risk.

How should my employer handle sexual harassment?

Unwelcome touches, offensive emails or persistent advances are only a few ways in which an employee may feel sexually harassed on the job. Whether these or other behaviors occur once or on a regular basis, you want to have confidence that your employer will take you seriously if you bring it to his or her attention. Too often, complaints about sexual harassment are ignored at best and become the object of retaliation at worst.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not something new. Fortunately, recent media attention on the issue has brought about many positive changes, not only in the way employers deal with complaints about harassment but also in ways businesses of all sizes have taken steps to prevent these events from occurring.

Gender harassment replaces sexual harassment in many jobs

In the recent years since the #MeToo movement, many workplaces have taken important steps to identify and eliminate sexual harassment. This includes clarifying the behaviors that define sexual harassment and taking a strong stand of zero tolerance against those who mistreat co-workers in this manner. In some cases, it may have meant a radical change in the culture of a specific workplace. As a result, reports of sexual harassment dropped nearly 40%.

Unfortunately, the complete picture is not so rosy. In fact, if you are still suffering under the mistreatment of an employer or co-worker, the statistics may mean little to you. On the other hand, you may now be experiencing the backlash of the #MeToo movement, which has left many women dealing with gender harassment on the job.

Filing a sexual harassment complaint

You have the right to a safe work environment, and this does not only mean avoiding accidents and injuries. If you feel unsafe because your employer or a coworker is harassing you, it can be very difficult to do your job or even to show up for work. Sexual harassment is against both California and federal laws, and your harasser could face serious penalties if you bring the situation to light.

Unfortunately, many in your position are unsure of how to proceed to get the harassment to stop. Even if you do take those steps, there is no guarantee that your employer will take you seriously, and you may even fear retaliation on the job. Nevertheless, with the right assistance, you may be able to attain your goals of going to work in peace and obtaining justice for your suffering.

Are you the victim of "quid pro quo" sexual harassment?

You've probably heard the saying "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" at some point. You understand this to mean that if you do something for someone, the other person will do something for you. This may be acceptable when you are exchanging favors with friends or family, but it has no place at work.

You are already receiving income and benefits in exchange for performing your job duties. No one should tell you that you have to do something personal, such as exchanging sexual favors, in order to keep your job, get a promotion or change your schedule. This is a type of sexual harassment, and you do not have to tolerate it.

Sexual harassment is not always obvious

In any workplace in California or elsewhere, you will find a variety of personalities. Some you will look forward to encountering throughout the day, and others you will dread. You may be working with someone who talks too loudly, complains about health issues or has an unpleasant body odor. Others make you uncomfortable in other ways.

Your co-workers may make excuses or brush off a colleague's behavior as just being overly friendly. Maybe some explain the behavior as part of the difference between cultures or generations. It may be something that disturbs and confuses you because to you, the actions are simply offensive.

Popular music festival aims to decrease harassment rates

Even before the #MeToo movement took place, concerts and musical festivals were infamous for the amount of sexual misconduct that happened within the premises. Many young adults often take advantage of these events thanks to the large crowds and lack of adult supervision by harassing or groping other attendees without their consent.

This repulsive behavior was especially present at 2018’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, arguably one of the most popular annual music events in California. Shortly after last year’s festival, a Teen Vogue article went viral after highlighting the disturbing experiences dozens of women had during the concerts. In response to the criticism they’ve received, Coachella has made multiple updates to 2019’s festival. Female festival volunteers and workers at this festival or upcoming concert events should be aware of what these changes could mean for their workplace environments.

New report highlights female economist harassment

Since the emergence of the #MeToo movement, multiple industries have been taking efforts to eliminate sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. For some companies, coming up with methods to decrease bad behavior is more effective when they know how big the problem currently is.

In April 2018, the American Economic Association (AEA) sent out a survey to over 45,000 workers asking them to describe their current workplace climate. Over 9,000 chose to respond, and the results showcase how large the discrimination gap is between male and female workers.

College students have difficulty speaking up about harassment

Recently, California lawmakers have been debating over a judge’s ruling that cases involving students accused of sexual assault should include a live cross-examination from both parties. Some believe that this is the right choice as it would provide a fair trial. Others think that this could be traumatizing to the victim and give them another reason not to report the crime to campus safety.

Despite the #MeToo movement encouraging many young adults to speak up about their experiences, college students can have an especially difficult time discussing any incidents they had with teachers or other students with authorities. It is important for teachers, parents and students to know why it is hard to report sexual harassment on college campuses so that we can make the process easier for them and create a safer educational environment.

Massage therapy has high rates of sexual harassment

Out of all the industries affected by the #MeToo movement, few have been making headlines as much as popular hotel chains. Many employees have suffered for years from disgusting guests and coworkers and have had their complaints unanswered. It’s easier to get away with sexual harassment and misconduct since there are so many more rooms and space than your typical workplace.

It isn’t just the housekeepers and chefs who constantly deal with uncomfortable situations. Over half of male and female massage therapists claim they’ve experienced unwanted sexual advances from their clients. Professionals in the industry are also upset that it’s gotten to the point where many people often compare it to prostitution. A recent story centered around a lawsuit against a San Diego resort demonstrates how this continues to be an issue in California.

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