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At least one in four women are sexually harassed at work, according to a recent report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Some studies report that the number of victims of workplace sexual harassment is actually much higher, at a staggering 85 percent.
With sexual harassment case after sexual harassment case coming to light, researchers are looking into the aftermath and realizing just how much it can lead to toxic work environments that encourage discriminatory behavior and induce post-traumatic stress disorder. That's why it's important to detect.
Despite the prevalence of sexual harassment, however, it can be difficult to discern the behavior and signs.
Here’s how to tell if a coworker is being sexually harassed at work and what you can do about it.
Behavior to Look for in the Harasser:
According to the U.S. News Report & World Report, harassers exhibit the following behaviors continuously, repeatedly, and/or severely:
Behavior to Look for in the Victim:
Many times, sexual harassment doesn’t take place out in the open at work. That said, a person experiencing sexual harassment may show the following signs:
What to Do:
Even if you suspect your coworker is being sexually harassed, they may not feel comfortable going a traditional route, such as reporting to HR or their employers.
If they do, help your coworker to review your workplace policies on sexual harassment and get clarity on to whom they should report the incident.
If they don’t want to file a complaint, you can take the following steps:
Jennifer Koza is a social worker specializing in program development. By day she is a research and evaluation analyst, committed to preventing violence against women and studying the value of work and workplaces. By night she is a painter- or at least she tries to be when she's not catching up on t.v./movies (or re-watching The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, or The Office).
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