Many instances of sexual harassment occur through the abuse of power. This is why it is important to recognize situations in which coworkers and managers abuse their power for personal gain. If any reference to sex is involved in this abuse of power, it may be possible to make a complaint of sexual harassment.
Victims of sexual harassment have the right to choose whether they want to make a complaint. Many victims decide not to make a complaint because they are fearful of repercussions in their career, or because they do not want to relive the traumatic event.
While having these fears is understandable, it is important to acknowledge that by making a complaint about sexual harassment in the workplace you are automatically protected from any retaliation made against you by your employer. Also, making a complaint could help to protect your career, as well as enforce your rights.
How is power used to sexually harass in the workplace?
The majority of all workplaces have a management hierarchy. This helps businesses to function effectively so that decisions can be made with ease. However, power can be used appropriately within a business context, and also inappropriately. Inappropriate and illegal uses of power in the workplace include using power to try to influence the actions of another in a sexual context. For example, if a manager offers their employee a promotion in return for a sexual favor, this would constitute sexual harassment through the means of power abuse.
How pervasive is sexual harassment in the workplace?
Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is more common than one might expect. Attention has been drawn to this issue in recent years through the #MeToo movement. It is thought that by raising awareness of the ways that sexual harassment can manifest in the workplace, better prevention and reporting techniques can be put in place. All workplaces have the legal responsibility to conduct investigations into reports of sexual harassment.
If you believe that you have suffered as a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you should make sure to consider reporting your experience to your workplace or a government agency if you think it is necessary. By doing so, you will be able to protect your career and make sure that justice is done.