Employers are responsible for creating a safe work environment and protecting employees free from discrimination and harassment. TIME reports that despite this ethical requirement, many workplaces in the United States have claims of misconduct filed against them.
While many people believe women to be the sole victims of this type of abuse, men are also on the receiving end of the unwanted behavior.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment includes requests for sexual favors, verbal or physical cues and unwelcome sexual advances. This abuse often interferes with a worker’s ability to perform his or her job efficiently, creating an offensive and hostile work environment.
Who perpetrates harassment?
Often, it is an authority figure who harasses a subordinate. Men still fill the majority of these leadership positions, but women have been moving into these roles in recent years, so it is not unusual to have a female superior. Women may ask male employees to engage in sexual behaviors as a power play or for personal reasons and threaten the employee with the loss of a job or offer a promotion. Female co-workers, clients and customers may also harass male employees.
What do the statistics say?
In 2019 alone, there were 7,514 sexual harassment claims made in the United States, as reported by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Males filed at least 16.8% of these claims, which is an increase from the 15.9% filed by males the year before. In 1997, only 11% of males filed sexual misconduct claims. Experts believe that the number of actual incidents is much higher, as a number of male employees feel embarrassed or worry that they will lose their jobs if they report sexual misconduct claims.