Classic Job Problems: Sexual Harassment

Classic Job Problems: Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is illegal, everywhere. It's sometimes deemed to be a form of assault. Unfortunately, it's also still common, despite decades of laws designed to combat the problem. It can be an extremely traumatic experience for those affected.

Important note:

This article is intended to identify the issues, and give some practical suggestions to deal with them. Sexual harassment can be an extremely complex, and very serious, legal situation. Anyone having sexual harassment problems should consult a legal practitioner for advice as soon as possible.

What is sexual harassment?

It's defined as a sexually oriented form of negative experience in the workplace. It may or may not include physical contact. It involves unwanted attention of a sexual nature, physically or verbally, or by any action having that effect.

The overall nature of sexual harassment is a form of aggressive behavior, directed against a person on a sexual basis. This can include some very unpleasant behavior, like verbal or physical abuse, threats, slander, and office politics and gossip, depending on the situations.

In the workplace, there's sometimes a blurring of the issues, where sexual harassment is believed to be a purely employment based problem. Some employers still believe that sexual harassment is a workplace problem. It isn't. In some cases, sexual harassment can fit the definition of a criminal act.

Employers should be aware that it is possible that they may have direct involvement in such cases if the situation results in any criminal offense. If aware of a complaint of sexual harassment, and a criminal charge is made in relation to that complaint, the employer may be considered directly or indirectly responsible for failure to take proper action in the matter.

What can you do about sexual harassment?

Important note: The primary concern in these cases is personal safety. Before taking any action, you should consider your options in the workplace. You may wish to be absent from the job when pursuing your complaint. Depending on employment laws, your rights in this regard need to be checked.

Make a complaint

  • You can make a complaint directly to the employer. Get advice from HR, or an independent adviser, about how to make your complaint.
  • Seek legal advice. You can also check out other methods of lodging a private lawsuit. This may be necessary, in the event that your employment has been affected in terms of income or career or job opportunities as a result of the complaint.

Complaints made to the employer have legal status under employment law.

These complaints should:

  • Be fully documented.
  • Be properly conducted by the employer.
  • Have copies of the findings of the complaint for the parties.
  • Make a formal decision regarding action to be taken in relation to the complaint.

If you're not satisfied with the results, you can still take the matter to a court. This is where you really need legal advice, because the issue now involves making a case against another person. Always make sure you fully understand the legal issues, and what information the court will require. It's vital to the success of your case.