Sexual harassment often isn’t about sex

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Sexual Harassment

If someone tells you that they’ve been facing sexual harassment at work, it’s natural for you to assume that this treatment is based on some sort of perceived romantic relationship from the other person. They may not want an actual relationship, of course, but they’re attracted to their co-worker. It could be a supervisor who wants to start a physical relationship with a new hire who works for them. Regardless of the exact dynamics, you assume it is physical attraction that drives them to this type of harassment.

If you have assumed this, you may be surprised to find out that sexual harassment usually doesn’t have a lot to do with sex. There’s something else at play, and that’s the reason that this is happening in the workplace environment.

What the experts say

It is true, of course, that every situation is unique. But common trends can be found. As one expert put it: “In most situations, it’s not about sex, it’s about an abuse of power.”

That’s why this happens in the workplace. A coworker, a supervisor, a manager or even a company owner may decide to use that position of power to get something that they want. But they may be doing it even more just to demonstrate or utilize this power that they have. They know that the employees are worried about being fired or reprimanded if they bring it up, so they think that people will just go along with it.

Power dynamics can also be the reason for other types of harassment and bullying in the workplace. It’s not just sexual harassment. Some people are constantly seeking to demonstrate their power over others in the corporate setting, and they’ll do it in any way that they can.

What options do you have?

Maybe it’s not a friend that’s been telling you this has happened, but it’s something that has happened to you. And you are worried about losing your job or seeing other types of retaliation, so you’re not sure what you should do to put an end to this treatment.

First and foremost, rest assured that it is illegal for the company to retaliate against you for filing a complaint. You do have legal options and no one deserves to be treated like this when they’re on the job. Take the time to consider each step carefully moving forward.

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