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#MeToo – Recognizing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment is a disease to our humanity. Lately, there has been a ground swell in the number allegations brought against well-known figures. Harvey Weinstein, the Co-founder of Miramax Films, was the catalyst to the ensuing almost daily allegations. The list of accused spans from the entertainment, political and news industries. Charlie Rose, television host for CBS and PBS, U.S. Senator Al Franken, U. S. House of Representative John Conyers, NBC anchor Matt Lauer, Alabama Judge Roy Moore, comedian Louis C. K. and most recently, producer and entrepreneur Russell Simmons are just a few. The rash of sexual allegations has shed the light on a national issue. This wave has sparked a phenomenal movement across social media titled #MeToo.

This hashtag, created by social activist, Tarana Burke, but popularized by actress Alyssa Milano has shed light on the harsh reality of sexual harassment that many people face; particularly women. As this hashtag grew, thousands of “regular” women, across this and other countries decided that enough was enough.  

Many women (and men) in the workplace deal with sexual harassment and are afraid to speak up partly because there is some confusion about what actions will actually be considered “sexual harassment.” According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can include "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.”  

Here are five examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:

1. Quid Pro Quo - This is the technique of someone that holds superior ranking within the company. The manager gives out sexual incentives such as implying that he or she will give you a raise or promotion for sexual favors. 

2. Sexist behavior – Repetitive sexist jokes and comments and pet names like “Sweetie” have been deemed as sexual harassment.

3. Flirting - This “playful” showing of affection can turn vicious when it becomes frequent and leads to an individual feeling awkward or offended.

4. Unwelcomed Physical Encounters - Touching, kissing, groping, hugging, or any unwelcomed physical contact can constitute sexual harassment.

5. Repetition - Any form of unwanted sexual conduct; such as negative or positive comments, inappropriate online communication, cat calling, simple teasing, etc., that are repeated in such manner that it results in a hostile work environment have been deemed as sexual harassment.

When faced with any of these issues, there are five key steps you can take: 

1. Realization - Recognize that there is a problem at your workplace.

2. Address the Issue - Inform the individual that their actions are inappropriate and they need to stop. In addition, keep a record of every instance where the harassment takes place.

3. Follow Company Policy - Review and understand your company’s policy before going to the administration or human resources representative.

4. File a Claim – You can file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (within 180 days of the harassment).

5. Contact a Lawyer - Sexual harassment has negative ramifications that can impact your emotional well-being, physical health, and financial stability. Find a lawyer who will properly defend your case.


The materials available on this page are for informational purposes only and not for providing legal advice. If you still have questions about sexual harassment in the workplace, it would be best for to contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship.


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