Sexual harassment in the workplace is a series of discriminatory behavior that produces a toxic work environment centered on a designated classification. It can include things like verbal harassment, abusing power, special favors in exchange for favors, and assaults like unwanted physical contact. Harassment in the workplace has a detrimental impact on all employees, including lower productivity, worse morale, and more attrition.
There’s been increasing recognition of the importance of workplace sexual harassment over the last several decades. Sexual harassment incidents have been linked to unfavorable career results, psychological wellbeing, and physical health conditions.
Categories of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
In 2016, the EEOC received 12,860 complaints claiming sex-based discrimination. Since then, there has been a lot of awareness about the different sorts of sexual harassment in the workplace. Workplace sexual harassment can take numerous various forms, but it typically falls into one of two categories.
The first is Quid pro quo sexual harassment. This entails telling an employee that in compensation for career progression, advancement, or some such other reward, they must deliver a sexual favor. Because quid pro quo sexual harassment frequently lacks eyewitnesses and can be difficult to prove in court, working with a sexual harassment lawyer who will properly research the accusation is critical.
The other kind of sexual harassment comprises a workplace that is defined by the presence of sexually motivated conduct. Telling inappropriate jokes, making nasty remarks, leering, or indulging in other unwanted behaviors are examples of both verbal and nonverbal elements.
Effects of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Everyone is affected by sexual harassment since it creates an atmosphere that makes it difficult for employees to perform. The following are some of the potential consequences of workplace sexual harassment:
- Emotional And Physical Issues
Physical and mental wellbeing are inextricably intertwined. Loss of appetite, migraines, weight changes, and sleep difficulties are all physical health issues. Sleep deprivation may lead to a variety of major health issues, including hormone instability, an elevated risk of high blood pressure, and a weaker immune system. Sexual harassment victims frequently experience mental and behavioral consequences, such as anxiety, sadness, and nervousness. They frequently have low self-esteem and assertiveness.
According to research, sexual harassment hurts women’s work satisfaction, emotional commitment, and wellbeing, raising psychological anguish, generating more physical sickness, and producing more unhealthy eating habits.
- Decreased Company Productivity
Sexual harassment hurts a company. Everyone loses when a workplace is contaminated with prejudice and harassment. Employees suffer from absenteeism, low morale, gossip, antagonism, tension, and anxiety as a result of the hatred caused by harassment. Businesses and the entire market are both affected by sexual harassment.
Absenteeism, reduced performance, high employee turnover, bad morale, and legal costs associated with sexual harassment cost businesses millions of dollars each year. Sexual harassment victims and survivors are far more likely to leave, resulting in significant employee turnover and increased hiring and training costs.
As per Heather McLaughlin and colleagues’ research, roughly 80% of women who have been sexually harassed leave their professions within two years. It will be more difficult to acquire top people in a toxic workplace.
- Financial Challenges
Sexual harassment not only harms one’s health, but it also harms one’s finances. Sexual harassment can have a negative impact on a victim’s work performance and career path. Some people retreat from the job and detach from coworkers due to fear and low confidence.
Sometimes sexual harassment victims may experience longer-term employment consequences, such as the loss of work recommendations, termination, or losing creditability in their industry. Individuals may also elect to leave their present position or company to prevent a hostile work environment. As a result, financial issues such as missed pay and unpaid leave may arise.
- Brand name and reputation
The failure of a firm to appropriately prevent and respond to sexual harassment can lead to costly lawsuits. In an EEOC action alleging rape and sexual harassment by three male managers at a Florida packing plant, a court granted plaintiffs $17.4 million.
A high-profile example of sexual harassment can harm a company’s brand and lead to lost sales. According to research, when prospective customers observe or learn about “divisiveness” directed at an employee in the workplace, they may form negative judgments that make them less inclined to purchase from the company.
Impact of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace on an Individual Level
Sexual harassment episodes and instances can traumatize and create serious impacts on all individuals involved. Below are some consequences of follow-up sexual harassment on an individual basis.
On the Victim:
Anxiety, sadness, hypertension, sleep difficulties, loss of weight, nausea, poor self-esteem, and hormonal imbalances are all commonly observed repercussions of sexual harassment. They also bear job-related expenses, such as job loss, low morale, lack of job satisfaction, and irreversible harm to social working relationships.
Furthermore, individual victims of sexual harassment at the workplace might be forced to transfer, change their department, and face physical and psychological discomfort. Sexual harassment, on the whole, creates a hostile and unproductive professional growth and development atmosphere.
On the harasser:
Referral for training, referral for counseling, written or verbal reprimand, termination, transfer, demotion, or severance of work are all possible consequences of sexual harassment. It would also be necessary to refer the case to another relevant entity for review for probable state and federal laws violations.
Any individual who is accused of violating any part of the sexual harassment policy may face disciplinary action that might include, but is not restricted to, referral to a training program, counseling recommendation, written or verbal reprimand, suspension, or termination.
How to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
All the company employees deserve a workplace free of harassing behavior, and all employees must be expected to conduct themselves professionally while on the job. Not only may workplace harassment result in costly lawsuits, but it also fosters a poisonous atmosphere that undermines teamwork and reduces productivity.
Managers and HR have to ensure that the work environment is free of sexual harassment. An excellent prevention-based harassment training program is one of the most important tools for addressing and avoiding workplace harassment. As part of the anti-harassment code, accurately describe the definition of sexual harassment and utilize illustrations and case studies to assist clarify the meaning where it may be unclear.
Get out and about with your coworkers regularly. Discuss the working atmosphere with them. Inquire about their opinions. Take a look around the office. Employees should be encouraged to address harassment. If an employee complains about sexual harassment, investigate the issue right away. If the complaint is found to be legitimate, you must respond quickly and effectively. As a result, information on appropriate reporting channels should be included in the policy. State the disciplinary measures that will be taken if harassment occurs.
Whenever harassment takes place, employees are frequently urged to turn the other way. If they express their dissatisfaction, they may be advised that the objectionable behavior was unimportant. Sexual harassment, on the other hand, must never be overlooked or tolerated. You can lessen the possibility of workplace sexual harassment by being proactive, implementing a strong policy, and providing thorough sexual harassment prevention training.