Sexual harassment is illegal and is defined as unwanted attention of a sexual nature. It can include anything from mild transgressions such as comments to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault.
The first time the term sexual harassment became popular was in the 1970s in Ithaca, New York at a ‘speak out.’ It has become an everyday occurrence for employers to do anything possible to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to keep their management from being sued for sexual harassment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that close to 15,000 complaints are brought to their attention each year regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Surveys conducted by the media and the United States government estimate that anywhere from 40-60 percent of women in the workforce are sexually harassed.
The majority of complaints filed with the EEOC have been filed by women but the number being filed by men has increased since 2006. 16 percent of complaints during the fiscal year of 2007 were filed by men and of those 16 percent, 11 percent were filed by men against their female supervisors.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is not the only place where it can occur. The education industry has seen more and more reports of sexual harassment over the years. A study provided by the American Association of University Women in 2002 stated that 83 percent of girls and 78 percent of boys between the 8th and 11th grades have been sexually harassed.
Another study released by the American Association of University Women claimed that 62 percent of women and 61 percent of men at colleges and universities across the country have been sexually assaulted during their education careers. 80 percent of the reported sexual harassment cases at the college and university levels were peer to peer cases.
More often than not the harasser in a sexual harassment case is a person in a position of power or authority over the victim. The harasser can be a teacher, a client, a co-worker, a professor, a stranger, a friend, or a student. Anyone that finds the situation offensive can be a victim to sexual harassment. The victim and the harasser can be either male or female. It doesn’t matter what the situation is and the harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex. Finally, the harasser doesn’t always realize that their behavior is harassment or that their actions are unlawful in nature.
There are a variety of different types of sexual harassment. Power player, also known as ‘quid pro quo,’ is when a person in a position of power uses their authority to acquire sexual favors so that the victim can keep their job, be given a promotion, be given a recommendation, favorable grades in school and more.
Another form of harassment is groping. This occurs when the eyes and hands of a sexual harasser begin to wander while at work or at school. A harasser will look at his or her victim’s body longingly with their eyes and grope with their hands.
A confidante can also become a sexual harasser. A confidante will make friends with their victim, help them out by sharing their life experiences, and invite their victims to share their own experiences. This makes the victim feel safe with the confidante and begins to trust them. These relationships normally turn intimate and inappropriate.
There is such a thing as an unintentional harasser. An unintentional harasser commits acts of a sexual nature and makes sexual comments without really knowing what he or she is doing can be illegal and considered sexual harassment.
One other form of sexual harassment can be stalking. Not many people realize this but stalking is greatly considered to be a form of sexual harassment in quite a few states.
Many times the victim of a sexual harassment case will face retaliation from the harasser once they report the incident to the proper authorities. The victim will be blamed for what occurred and will be taunted by the harasser and risk taunting by their peers, superiors and/or teachers.