Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unacceptable and Unwanted

This is another chic post (although it can apply to males as well), but I feel this stuff needs to be said.  I am not referring to myself, just so everyone knows.  I've simply seen and heard a lot about this and decided to do some research, and am just sharing my finds so people are aware.  Personal safety and awareness is something that I do not take lightly, so I'm always trying to learn new things on offensive behaviors and habits, as well as how to deal with them.

The Issue
I'm talking about sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment in the workplace is a widespread problem, and not something to be taken lightly.  Chances are, you or someone you know has encountered some form of this issue at some point in their working lifetime.  There are different forms of sexual harassment; among these are verbal, physical, and visual.  I didn't know that this type of harassment was not limited to unwanted and intrusive physical contact.  It can be sexual comments about a person, sexual jokes, and the like.  We hear this stuff all the time, right?  Maybe even laugh at it, because we are so immune to the fact that it is WRONG.  

The problem is that we often just accept it as being a product of today's society.  We shouldn't.  The most comprehensive definition that I found for this issue is "unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.”

If there is someone in your workplace who frequently directs a conversation toward things of a sexual nature, steer away from it.  It they continue to do this, then that's sexual harassment.  The key is that you don't accept it and that you make sure to let the offender know that you don't enjoy or approve of their conduct.

Re-read the latter part of that definition.  If the action doesn't affect your own personal work performance but creates a hostile work environment, then it's still harassment!  This is not acceptable.  

The Details
1- The conduct must be unwanted and uninvited.  If you encourage it or respond to it positively, then it cannot be considered as harassment.  
2- One incident doesn't count as harassment.  It must be several "minor" incidents.
3- If the conduct makes you uncomfortable, especially to the point that you refuse a promotion or other work opportunity because it will put you in contact with the harasser, then this obviously qualifies.

What To Do
This type of conduct is against the law.  Confront the harasser and let them know that their actions are not acceptable, whatever they may be.  If they continue to made advances, then notify your employer immediately and (in a confidential meeting, of course) outline the different instances and request that they do something about it.  Because this is a federal offense, they have a legal obligation to address the issue.  

I'm finished ranting now.  Just something to be aware of, because I feel that this is an issue that is often overlooked, since our society today doesn't seem to have any boundaries.  It all just makes me sick.

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