Recent events, combined with today’s general political climate, have opened the door for much discussion on the topic of sexual harrassment. An issue that plagues America today, inappropriate behavior and remarks are being investigated and — to many victims’ relief — addressed legally. Despite this step forward in recognizing the abuse that dominates a plethora of work places and other social settings, a great number of men and women experience harassment each day. But what, exactly, does the term sexual harassment encompass, and how can Missouri residents become more knowledgeable about the issue?
It is now commonly acknowledged that sexual harassment affects the entire nation, and millions are left in question of what the term really means. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission outlines the factors that define this pervading problem, first stating that sexual harassment violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors are some examples of this type of damaging behavior. The EEOC also debunks the stigma that sexual harassment only occurs toward women; the victim can be of any sex, and does not have to be of the opposite sex. One important aspect of this definition is that the harasser’s conduct must also be unwelcome.
The American Association of University Women, a nonprofit organization striving for women’s equality, provides further warning signs and steps one can take when dealing with a situation of harassment. In a guide discussing workplace sexual harassment, AAUW makes clear the seriousness of addressing situations, and adds that letting a problem persist can ultimately make the environment a dangerous and toxic setting for anyone. If an individual experiences sexual harassment in the workplace, they may choose to examine their employee handbook and take written account of the incident. AAUW also encourages victims to alert supervisors if they are comfortable doing so. There are many approaches to standing up to external danger in the workplace or in any environment, but the key is that each case is dealt with carefully and effectively.