Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: US Statistics shows men too get harassed

I was responsible for helping create the Policies and Procedures regarding Bullying in the Workplace in a Hospital.
The Government of India is barking up the same wrong tree in making “Gender-discriminatory laws” which presume that men are always the perpetrators. These presumptions are wrong as shown in a famous Michael Douglas movie, where he is being harassed by his boss Demi Moore named “Disclosure”.

The proposed “Sexual harassment at the workplace” seems to be another gender-discriminatory bill in the offing.

Harassment in the workplace is of many types namely:
1. Destructive Conflict
2. Harassment
3. Bullying
4. Sexual harassment

All the types of workplace harassment (more later) have to be covered, besides sexual harassment. US Statistics shows that MEN too are victims of sexual harassment.
International Labor Organization (ILO) definition is the standard being followed world-wide.

US discrimination laws covers all types of discrimination including GENDER (not specified), sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc. India should make a more general ‘Discrimination at the workplace act’ first before getting specific.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: US Statistics shows men too get harassed
The Problem

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) describes sexual harassment as a form
of gender discrimination that is in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1998, the U.S.
Supreme Court made employers more liable for sexual harassment of their employees. Moreover, the
The Society for Human Resource Management has reported that 62% of companies now offer sexual
harassment prevention training programs, and 97% have a written sexual harassment policy.


Below is a brief listing of recent harassment statistics. However, it is important to point out that these
only discuss formal complaints, and that the vast number of sexual harassment situations go unreported.

The number of grievance filed with the EEOC has gradually decreased over the last decade. In 1997,
close to 16,000 charges were filed. In fiscal year 2007, this number dropped to 12,510.
(See a comprehensive listing of current EEOC harassment statistics.)

The majority of complaints come from women, however the number of complaints filed by men is
increasing. In 2007, 16% of complaints filed with the EEOC were filed by men. The Gender Public
Policy Coalition stated recently that increasing numbers of men filing against other men. In a 2004
study by Lawyers . com and Glamour Magazine, 17% of men said they had experienced sexual harassment, and vs. 35% of women.

Morevoer, a 2006 government study in the United Kingdom revealed that 2 out of 5 sexual harassment victims in the UK are male, with 8% percent of all sexual harassment complaints to the Equal Opportunities Commission (Britain’s EEOC), coming from men.
A telephone poll by Louis Harris and Associates on 782 U.S. workers revealed:

* 31% of the female workers reported they had been harassed at work
* 7% of the male workers reported they had been harassed at work
* 62% of targets took no action
* 100% of women reported the harasser was a man
* 59% of men reported the harasser was a woman
* 41% of men reported the harasser was another man

Of the women who had been harassed:

* 43% were harassed by a supervisor
* 27% were harassed by an employee senior to them
* 19% were harassed by a coworker at their level
* 8% were harassed by a junior employee

Causes of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The causes of sexual harassment at work can be complex, and steeped in socialization, politics, and
psychology. Work relationships can be quite intimate and intense, and those involved share common
interests. Employee’s are dependant on each other for teamwork and support, and are dependant on
their supervisor’s approval for opportunities and career success. Supervisors and employers can grow
accustomed to the power they have over their employees. Such closeness and intensity can blur the
professional boundaries and lead people to step over the line. Politics can be a catalyst, and problems
caused by poor management, workplace bullying, frustration, and job/financial insecurity, etc., can
create hostile environments that leak over into working relationships. Personal problems can also be a
factor, and sexual harassment can be a symptom of the effects of life traumas such as divorce, or death of a spouse or child.

No occupation is immune from sexual harassment; however, reports of harassment of women is higher
in fields that have traditionally excluded them, including blue collar environments, such as mining and
firefighting, and white collar environments, such as surgery and technology. Sexist or sexualized
environments–full of sexual joking, sexually explicit graffiti or objects, viewing Internet p0rnography,
etc.–usually shape the attitudes that male workers have towards their female colleagues. For example,
in an environment where obscenities are common, women are 3 times more likely to be sexually
harassed than in an environment where such talk is not tolerated. In environments where sexual joking
is common, women are 3 to 7 times more likely to be sexually harassed.(See Sexualized Environments )

Men still retain most of the workplace supervisory positions, and they are the ones who decide whether or not a complaint of sexual harassment in justified. Because of this, if a woman complains about the man who exposed himself to her, in most cases, she is the one who will be considered the problem. (See Ellison vs. Brady and the “Reasonable Woman” Standard )

Sexual harassment of men does occur, though there is less information about the problem because
men are less likely to report the behavior. Sexual harassment of men in the workplace is most often
same-sex harassment, and focused on men who are deemed less masculine than the others;
however, neither the perpetrators nor the victim will necessarily be gay. (See Oncale v. Sundowner)
Still, there are increasing reports of men being harassed by women, particularly female supervisors.

Sexual harassment of Male hero by Female Boss in movie Disclosure
Sexual harassment of Male hero by Female Boss in movie Disclosure

Useful Links:

EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Workplace Fairness

US Department of Labor


International Labor Organization (ILO)
“Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace… (Employers) should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”

— Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC)

Legal Definitions for Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Two specific legal definitions of sexual harassment have been established in employment law:

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: “Something for something;” this is the “you do something for me and I’ll do something for you” type of exchange. This occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, a supervisor promises an employee a raise if she will go out on a date with him, or tells an employee she will be fired if she doesn’t sleep with him. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee’s submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct or a sexual nature. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the victim resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: This occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, offensive sexual materials, or unwelcome physical contact as a regular part of the work environment. Generally speaking, a single isolated incident will not be considered hostile environment harassment unless it is extremely outrageous and egregious conduct. The courts look to see whether the conduct is both serious and frequent. Supervisors, managers, co-workers and even customers can be responsible for creating a hostile environment.

Employer Liability

Employers can be legally responsible for sexual harassment against their employees and liable to
them for damages; however, liability depends on the type of harassment, and who committed it.

Harassment by a supervisor: If the harassment results in an employment action against the victim (such as firing, demotion, or unfavorable changes in work assignments), the employer is liable. The employer can also be liable if the harassment creates a hostile work environment. However it has a possible defense if the employer can show that the it took reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct the problem, and the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the company’s preventive or corrective measures.

Harassment by a co-worker: The employer is liable if it knew, or should have known, about the harassment. However, the employer is not liable if immediate and appropriate corrective actions were taken to remedy the problem.

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