Across California, workers in any industry might experience sexual harassment. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder collected responses from 809 full-time employees in the private sector and concluded that 12 percent of them had been sexually harassed at work. Reporting the behavior to their employers, however, proved to be the exception rather than the rule. Among victims, 72 percent of them stayed silent. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a victim has options for pursuing a remedy.
For a federal employee dealing with sexual harassment in a California workplace, there are a number of guidelines to keep in mind that make reporting it somewhat different from doing so in private industry. Harassment may come from a supervisor, a coworker or someone outside the agency such as a contractor. A person does not have to be the object of the harassment to be considered the victim. A previous relationship between the person who is harassed and the person doing the harassing does not make sexual harassment acceptable. Sexual harassment is not necessarily related to gender or sexual orientation.
Sexual harassment may be a problem for California employers because of a failure to enforce workplace policies related to that issue. In some cases, managers and employees may fail to hold themselves to the standards that they expect others to abide by. Facebook has gone public with its own sexual harassment policy as well as its policy against bullying in the workplace. While it doesn't claim to have all the answers, the company believes that it can help others create better policies.
California residents who are used to waking up with the "Today Show" may be interested to learn that, on Nov. 29, long-time host Matt Lauer was suddenly fired from NBC. The firing reportedly came just hours after an unknown individual claimed that the former host had acted sexually inappropriately towards her during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The numerous recent news reports and the #metoo campaign have shed light on the prevalent problem of sexual harassment in society and in California. Workplaces are not immune, and many workers are the targets of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace as a forbidden form of sex discrimination, and it is imperative that employers take steps to prevent it from happening.
Statistics indicate that about 71 percent of women decide against reporting workplace sexual harassment due to the fear of being retaliated against. However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to help prevent future incidences of sexual harassment and support their colleagues.
California workers should know that the United States Department of Labor recognizes two types of sexual harassment. A hostile work environment is the result of sexual harassment that makes the work area offensive or threatening. Quid pro quo refers to using whether a victim succumbs to sexual harassment as a basis for making employment decisions, such as promotions or work assignments.
Someone receiving care from a California physical therapist might not realize how often that professional might endure unwanted sexual advances from patients. A study that surveyed 892 physical therapists reported that 84 percent of them experienced everything from lewd remarks to sexual assault. A portion of victims expressed to researchers the indifference of their employers toward the harassment. Management in some cases considered the harassment to be part of the job and did nothing to protect employees.
The technology giant Google became mired in a controversy in August after one of its engineers claimed that women were unsuited to work in the technology sector because of their biological characteristics. Google subsequently fired him, but the ensuing media storm has prompted several other women formerly employed by Google to step forward with accounts of sexual and racial discrimination and harassment at the company's California headquarters.
According to a 2016 report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, around one-third of women experience sexual harassment at work. However, women in California and throughout the country may be hesitant to report harassment for a number of reasons including concerns about how it will affect their careers or that they will not be believed. Three-fourths of women who suffered sexual harassment did not discuss it with a union representative or supervisor. Gender discrimination is also an issue, and women report that men are often paid more and promoted more frequently.