Sexual harassment at work is a serious offence with reputation-damaging consequences. If found guilty of this unprofessional behaviour, an individual could not only lose their reputation and job but could end up spending five to fifteen years in prison.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is common. In fact, it makes up 50% of all complaints. Whether you made a lewd joke at a female or male employee, touched an employee inappropriately, or asked a sexual question, there are many ways you can sexually harass an individual, either knowingly or unknowingly.
If you are accused of sexual harassment at work and seem confused about what to do or who to run to, this post is for you.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is unacceptable sexual behaviour that is rude, embarrassing, or intimidating. It doesn’t have to be physical. It can also be verbal and can take place either offline or online.
Anybody can be sexually harassed, regardless of their age or gender. When this unprofessional act occurs at work, school, or university, it may result in the form of discrimination.
Next, let’s look at examples of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
You could sexually harass an individual without knowing and get sued for the act regardless of whether it was intentional or not. To ensure you don’t get caught unawares, you need to understand the examples of sexual harassment.
Here are a few of them:
- Sharing pornographic images or videos or other sexually inappropriate media with colleagues
- Sending suggestive letters, emails, or notes
- Showcasing inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace
- Making derogatory comments about an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity
- Staring at a co-worker in a sexually suggestive or offensive way
- Asking sexual questions, like enquiries about someone’s sexual history or sexual orientation
- Touching a co-worker inappropriately, such as pinching, patting, rubbing, or intentionally rubbing your body against another individual
- Making sexual remarks about appearance, clothing, or body parts
- Telling vulgar jokes or sharing sexual anecdotes
- Spreading sexual rumours regarding an employee
- Repeated hugs
If you are accused of sexually harassing an employer, manager, client, etc., at work, you’ll need a competent sex crime attorney at your side. The professional will help pursue your case. He will also guide you on what to do so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
What Happens if You are Accused of Sexual Harassment at Work?
Were you accused of sexual harassment at work? Perhaps you touched a male colleague inappropriately or made a lewd joke at a female co-worker; regardless of the misconduct, you’ll have to face the music if the allegations are true.
As said earlier, sexual harassment is a serious act frowned at by society and the civil court. Because of its nature, employers and the company’s management are required to take accusations of sexual misconduct seriously, irrespective of who is involved.
Also, all workplaces are required to have investigative processes and sanctions in place to solve issues of sexual harassment and punish guilty individuals. The processes are to be read out to employees to deter them from indulging in the act. As soon as a complaint is made, the accused person will be informed of the accusations against them. They’ll also be informed of the investigation being opened against them, usually headed by an investigative body.
The job of the investigative body is to get to the root of the matter. They are required to interview witnesses and review CCTV footage, including other pieces of evidence, to uncover the truth and punish the guilty party.
What Do I Do If I’ve Been Accused Of This?
Sexual harassment accusations could ruin your life if not well handled. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, what do you do?
Immediately you discover that an investigation has been opened against you as a result of sexual harassment, contact a lawyer who will tell you the next steps to take.
It is crucial you speak to a legal specialist, regardless of if you are guilty of the allegations or not. If you fail to seek the advice of a legal specialty and decide to solve the issue alone, you may lose the case. Remember, an individual guilty of sexual harassment can face up to 14 years in custody, depending on the offense.
If not well handled, a sexual harassment accusation could ruin your life, regardless of if you are guilty or not. It could also have a ripple effect on the lives of your loved ones, like your children, spouse, close family members, etc.
You’ll have to be proactive with your actions to boost your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome of a sexual harassment accusation. And above all, you’ll need the help of a competent lawyer.