Men Are Sometimes The Targets Of Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

On behalf of Alfonso Kennard

The author of an article published in Forbes magazine observes that "women as well as men can act the role of the sexually bullying boss." There are court cases which tend to prove that this is an apt observation. For example, the International Business Times reported last year that a Texas man won a sexual harassment lawsuit after a jury concluded that he was the victim of unwanted sexual advances by his female boss. Among other things, the former Galveston County deputy constable alleged that his boss made sexually charged comments, placed her shirt over his head, asked him to touch her intimately and gave him unwanted lap dances. A jury awarded the former deputy constable $567,000 in damages for acts of sexual harassment that took place "repeatedly" over several months.

Over the past two decades, more men have been willing to file sexual harassment complaints regardless of whether it involves female-on-male harassment or male-on-male harassment. The website notes that it is unclear whether the significant increase in sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by men paints a "clear picture of the reality of male sexual harassment in the workplace."

Some believe that the sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC by men represent only a small fraction of the actual number of incidents involving sexual harassment. Others suggest that the spike in EEOC complaints filed by men does not reflect that workplace male sexual harassment is on the increase; rather, it is indicative of the fact that men are now more comfortable bringing sexual harassment incidents to light. In either event, one thing is clear: Many companies are not doing enough to deal with the issue of sexual harassment aimed at men.

People have a tendency to underestimate the impact of sexual harassment on men. However, men typically do not have a lifetime of experience in dealing with sexual harassment and are often stunned and uncertain about what to do when it happens to them.

Science Daily reports that numerous studies indicate that sexual harassment is as emotionally distressing for men as it is for women.

Addressing harassment

According to Inc. magazine, when conduct crosses the line from playful bantering to sexual harassment, you need to call it out-immediately. You should make it clear to the person in question that he or she has crossed a line. Being direct and blunt is best since some harassers will stop if confronted. It is advised that you be "clear and strong" and "insist that the situation change — or you will make it change." It can be a good thing if other coworkers hear you confront the harasser since they could potentially be witnesses to the fact that you spoke up promptly and decisively when confronted with sexual harassment.

If the harasser refuses to cease the offensive behavior, you should immediately begin the process of documenting every incident of harassment that occurs. In addition, if your harasser is a coworker, you should report the conduct to your supervisor. If the harasser is your supervisor, you should report the sexual harassment to the company's human resources department. Consulting with an attorney would be wise if your employer refuses to act.

Seek legal advice

Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under both federal law and Texas law. If you are being subjected to sexual harassment, you should contact a Texas attorney experienced in handling employment law cases. The attorney can advise you on your rights and possible remedies.