Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a rather common issue in the workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, there are two basic forms of actionable sexual harassment:
1. Quid pro quo- conditioning employment or some aspect of employment on a favorable response to sexual advances in the workplace; and
2. Hostile environment harassment - sexual comments and conduct so pervasive that the workplace becomes intimidating, hostile, or offensive.
Both forms of sexual harassment involve unwelcomed conduct. Yes, if we lived in a perfect world, everyone would be able to act, dress, and do whatever he or she wanted and never be bothered. But unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world, and often our actions and appearance can be misinterpreted.
Here are some tips that will help you avoid these misinterpretations.
Three Tips For Preventing Sexual Harassment In The Workplace.
Tip #1: Don't Be Overly Friendly -- Sadly, coworkers might mistake friendliness for flirting. If you are a naturally expressive person and often touch others while talking or laugh and smile a lot, try to control this during work hours. While you are in a professional environment, act accordingly. This doesn't mean you have to be serious and boring all the time, it simply means that you need to act properly. This will avoid misunderstandings with your coworkers, especially if they are just getting to know you.
Tip #2: Dress Appropriately And Conservatively -- Even if you are allowed to dress informally at your work place or often come in jeans for casual Fridays, dress conservatively for your work. That means, take care to pick clothes that aren't too tight or too revealing. You also need to know that certain types of clothes are not appropriate in a work situation. You want to be taken seriously, right? Then why not dress seriously? That said, it doesn't hurt to dress a bit more professional, especially if you really want to avoid your coworkers from being tempted to see you as an object of interest.
Tip #3: Be Specific And Be Firm When A Comment Is Made -- Despite all your efforts, there may be a coworker that keeps making inappropriate comments or keeps looking at you in a way that bothers you. Do not encourage him or her by smiling or laughing. Do be firm in your rejection. If they keep "dropping by" your work area, ask them pointedly, "Don't you have work to do?" or say, "I am uncomfortable with you stopping by all the time." If a coworker tries giving you gifts, do not accept these gifts. Although you might be worried about hurting his or her feelings, they need to understand that their actions are not appropriate.
Executive Summary: If you follow these tips among whatever else your common sense might dictate, you will be able to avoid all forms of harassment. If you still have problems after doing this, you might have to talk to your supervisor or report the aggressor to human resources.
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