Sexual harassment should never happen in the workplace. But statistics about workplace reporting make it very clear that it still does. Workers routinely face discrimination or harassment based on their gender – or that is sexual in nature.
But why does this happen even though it is illegal? Every situation is unique, so let’s look at three potential reasons below. Workers need to know their rights if they are in this situation.
1. A personal relationship between the two people
In some cases, the two individuals have a personal relationship that leads to workplace harassment. For instance, maybe the two of them were friends, and one person asked the other person out. When they were turned down, rather than letting it go, they continued to harass the other individual. Asking for a date is not automatically harassment, but refusing to take no for an answer can be.
2. A demonstration of power
In a lot of cases, sexual harassment is more about power than anything else. It is often a type of harassment carried out by those who are in power over their victims already. An example could be a manager and his or her secretary. The harassment that happens is rooted in power and may be more of an expression of this power than of any physical attraction.
3. A personal bias
It’s important to note that sexual harassment also includes insults and certain types of discrimination. For instance, you may have a supervisor who doesn’t believe that women should be in leadership roles and who constantly belittles you based on your gender. This is still potentially sexual harassment, even though it has nothing to do with attraction.
No matter why it happens, sexual harassment is always inappropriate in the workplace. Be sure you know what options you have if this occurs to protect your rights and your future.