and everything related to sex is always considered as sensitive topics.
Nowadays in the world, especially in the UK, however, sexual harassment is at
the high rate, becoming a familiar subject and happening predominantly at the
workplace. This issue thus occurs on both two sexes for men and women is now
under a gender equality. So what is sexual harassment at a workplace? EEOC – The
United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual
harassment: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other
verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when
this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment,
unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an
intimidating, and offensive work environment”.
other words, it is a behavior that disturbs or bullies other’s sex manifesting
by sexual demand, harasses victims by flirting or touching them. The statistics
of the Trades Union Congress and the Everyday Sexism Project found that “52% of
women had experienced unwanted behavior at work including groping, sexual
advances and inappropriate jokes”. This proportion rose by 11% when
interviewing 16 to 24-aged girls and women. From these data, sexual harassment
In Britain workplace is now a big problem. This paper, based on secondary
research, is aimed at providing information about the types, the effects of
sexual harassment in British workplace and its solutions.
are the types of workplace sexual harassment?
on the purposes, sexual harassment at a workplace can be divided into two main
categories: “hostile environment” and “quid pro quo” sexual harassment (The
EEOC’s Title VII Guidelines) or “hostile working environment” (The European
Commission, the CEDAW Committee, and the ILO).
the first type “hostile environment”, sexual harassment can happen when someone
is the target of undesirable sexual disturbances, starting with flirtation
(disparaging comments, reiterated and
annoying demands for rendezvous, dirty jokes, pranks, wind-ups, etc.) and
leveled up by sensually unpleasant gestures, stroking, touching or pornographic
behaviors. Severely is the sexual assault and rape at the workplace. These
occur because of ones’ gender status, becomes more and more brutal, ruthless
and omnipresent. These wrongdoings are obviously frequent involving the
victims’ capacity for jobs or the intensity of persecution is worse, with just
small skirmishes, they would be affected to be unable to work. (Struthers, A.,
& Phalan, C., 2016, p.1)
way for this type to take place is that the employer discriminates his or her
workers by their sexes. This means they offer unpropitious condition of
employment to employees but to their gender status. Therefore, the boss
considers inequitable engagements, unfairness working hours, work rosters, work
duties, wage-rental ratios, job benefits, job assessments, punishments,
promotions, vacation as well as termination. (Struthers, A., & Phalan, C., 2016,
other type, “quid pro quo” (something for something) is the reciprocation
between the employment promotion and the sexual contact. In this type,
harassment is also stood for ‘sexual blackmail’. It means that the employer
refers to taking advantages of authority by a person, who requests sensual
favors, obliging the recipient to decide between consenting and losing certain
job benefits (e.g. a wage-hike, a promotion, or even the job itself). (AWARE,
2008, p.12). Therefore, gender status is not the only reason for being
discriminated or being harassed by sex. An example of this type is when an
employer threats to fire an employee if he or she does not give in sexual
demands. If this is the tacit consent
between insiders, then it is another story. But if this action has happened
with one-side disagreement, then it is an illegal behavior. The victim in the
case is under pressure of losing a job.
How does sexual harassment affect British
is nothing new about sexual harassment at workplace, but the issue is
witnessing a tidal wave of recognition and attention. Sexual harassment can
wreak havoc on its sufferers and can cause a series of problem. (Spector, N.,
sexual harassment can threaten both the victim’s mental and physical health. It
can make them lose their self-esteem and it may even queer their personal
relationships. Thus, it causes significant stress and anxiety. As physical and
emotional health are closely linked, once victims experience mental problems,
it can also lead to physical health issues, such as appetite-loss, headaches,
weighty matters, and insomnia which may change the hormonal balance, increase
the risk of high blood pressure and weaken the immune system. (Steven, P. C.,
it affects employee productivity. When the workers are sexually harassed, their
efficiency will be disturbed, causing unpunctuality, absenteeism, negligence,
addition, sexual harassment can lead to financial challenges. Therefore,
telling the attorney about any financial consequences of sexual harassment
(wage-loss and unpaid-leave) is crucial. Victims may even cope with wider
career consequences (loss of job recommendations). Leaving the current position
or employer to avoid a hostile work environment is considered. (Steven, P. C.,
workplace sexual harassment impacts directly on global consequences especially on
the global costs. These costs are high and resulted from absenteeism, reduction
in productivity, health issues, turnover-staff, legal protection and
responsibility for sexual harassment claims. (STOPVAW, 2007). The economy also
suffers from retirement and insurance costs.
is legally responsible for workplace sexual harassment in Britain?
minute employees are sexually harassed, their employers are taking
responsibility for protecting them from offenders including non-employees.
who are the owners, managers, partners, corporate officers or supervisors that
control or make workers act under their authorities may possibly be liable if
they directly contributed to the harassment.
addition, employers are liable for the harassment when they did not take
immediate corrective actions once they knew this situation or their actions to
tackle or prevent this issue did not as efficient as they should be. Employers
may be responsible for compensative and punitory damages. Liability may depend
on who compelled the harassment and what actions the company took to correct
State Law demonstrates that the discrimination against employees especially
based on their gender status can make supervisors or managers be individually
accountable. (Federal law rules that employers must have the minimum at 15
employees this law also applies to a company).
some cases, a union, an alliance, as well as its delegates or the employment
organizations, could also be liable. Furthermore, Religious associations might
be answerable even if their protections from liability based on religious
freedom are taken.
are the solutions to the workplace – sexual harassment in the UK?
put an end to workplace sexual harassment, the most effective “weapon” against
this problem is prevention and it needs the actions from both the employer and employee
to be addressed for this issue does not disappear by itself.
regard to the employers, there are some treatments that employers can take to
create a harassment-free workplace, based mainly on guidelines from the British
Columbia Human Rights Commission manual Preventing Harassment in the Workplace (“Sexual
Harassment – Prevention of Sexual Harassment”, 2018). Firstly, employers have
to make it clear that this is a forbid-harassment workplace. Secondly, they
need to activate a sexual harassment and discrimination training program like onsite
HR training or HR E-learning to provide education and information about
harassment to all staffs. Besides, there is necessary to have a “carrot” – a prize
to encourage employees to attend the training (Allen Smith, J.D., 2018). On the
other hand, employers should establish an anti-harassment policy. This policy,
somehow, should follow the general guidelines from the EEOC. Last but not
least, they should investigate promptly, cope with harassment complaints
seriously and bring out the disciplines as well as the punishments to the offenders.
employees, together with employers, they should also take up actions to prevent
sexual harassment to happen at their workplace. They should be aware of the
risk and follow the company’s regulations. Consequently, reflecting whether
their verbal or non-verbal behaviors disturb others to change themselves by
watching others’ reactions is needed. If employers are victims, they should
tell the harassers to stop for they feel uncomfortable and report it sincerely
to the company by a document which is detailed, including time, date, location
and a concerned person (who, what, when, where). When employees witness a
harassment, no laugh but tell that person to stop. If he or she continues
acting reversely, report it and encourage sufferers to report it. Additionally,
they should support the victims and help them get through the pain.