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There is no excuse for sexual harassment on the job

Category: Hostile Work Environment

When someone is the victim of unwanted attention, unfair treatment or inappropriate behavior on the job, that person’s life can be affected in a number of ways. Not only can it make it nearly impossible to feel safe or protected at work, but it can also make a person feel scared, powerless and intimidated.

However, California employees should remember that workplace harassment and discrimination is unlawful and victims have the right to stand up and hold the appropriate parties accountable. This can be crucial to keep in mind, especially when people try to justify their behaviors by using a number of common excuses.

One excuse that people use to try and explain away inappropriate comments or behaviors is that they are meant as compliments and do not think they qualify as sexual harassment. However, workplaces should have policies in place to clearly lay out what is considered harassment. People are on the job to work and any comments or actions that could disrupt that environment should stay out of the workplace, even if it is meant as a compliment.

Another common excuse is that other people at work are engaging in similar behaviors, so it must be okay. But, as our parents used to tell us, just because someone else is doing someone bad does not make it okay for others to do the same thing.

Finally, people may argue that a casual workplace can blur the lines between what is and is not considered harassment. Of course these working relationships can look a little different than those in more traditional settings, but they are still bound by the same laws that prohibit harassment. Even casual workplaces forbid inappropriate behaviors including unwanted sexual advances, physical conduct, sexual gestures and derogatory comments.

Workers should know that there is no excuse for anyone to be subjected to harassment on the job and there is no shame in taking legal action against parties that do cross the line. Enforcing these boundaries can be a good way for workers to protect themselves and help prevent future situations involving sexual harassment.

Source: The Frisky, “4 Counterarguments To The Most Common Excuses For Workplace Sexual Harassment,” Rebecca Vipond Brink, June 4, 2014

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