By: Jeremy Schatz, Managing Attorney, Virtus Law Group.
Myth #1 “If I wasn’t touched, it’s not sexual harassment.”
Fact: Much of the sexual harassment committed in the workplace is verbal, including unwanted comments about appearance, request for sexual favors, request for sexual favor that include employment conditions, comments concerning sexual orientation, showing unwanted explicit photos, emails, text, etc., and discussing sexual acts just to name some examples. While not an exhaustive list, it’s clear there doesn’t need to be physical contact for sexual harassment to occur.
Myth #2 “If I just ignore it and don’t say anything, the sexual harassment will stop.”
Fact: This strategy never works. Unfortunately, this tends to make the harasser(s) believe they can get away with the behavior which often leads to escalation.
Also, attempting to ignore the behavior can have a devastating impact on your mental and physical well-being. Victims often become depressed, and anxious, develop PTSD, and substance abuse issues and inevitably begin to miss work or have difficulty doing their job. The effects can be long-lasting a be a major impact on a victim’s life.
Myth #3 “Sexual harassment in the workplace only happens to women.”
Fact: This may be one of the biggest myths of all. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act discrimination based on sex is prohibited.(this included sexual harassment). A 2018 survey by Stop Street Harassment found that 81% of women and 43% of men experience some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime with verbal sexual harassment being the most common for women (77%), followed by unwelcome sexual touching (51%), cyber-sexual harassment (41%), and being physically followed (34%).Men also reported verbal sexual harassment to be the most common (34%), followed by cyber-sexual harassment (22%) and unwelcome sexual touching. Further, according to a survey published by The Guardian 70% of members LGBTQIA+ community have been sexually harassed at work.
However, the unfortunate reality is that many employees fail to report the harassment in fear of some type of retaliation or embarrassment.
Myth #4 “The sexually harassing conduct must be directed at me”
Fact: Sexual harassment does not have to be directed at a specific person, and sometimes can occur indirectly. For example, if a group of male co-workers are telling a sexually explicit story to one another in a breakroom with other employees present, that may be considered sexual harassment even though it wasn’t directed at a specific person. It may also be considered indirect sexual harassment if an employee regularly tells sexually explicit jokes while in the workplace.
Sexual Harassment can be devastating and have long-lasting effects on a victim. If you feel as though you have been the victim of sexual harassment, call the experienced attorneys at Virtus Law Group for assistance to help you though. Our caring team is here to assist victims of sexual harassment.
Founded in Birmingham, Alabama Virtus Law Group is a Personal Injury and Labor and Employment firm serving the people of Alabama.