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Unwelcome Behavior in the Workplace
Unwelcome behavior consists of any conduct that you never initiated and is personally offensive to you. Co-workers, superiors, employers, or even subordinates can be perpetrators of unwelcome behavior or harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace includes unwelcome behavior. Unwelcome conduct towards a co-worker, employee, or subordinate is a major component of harassment. However, if all parties consent (such as consensual workplace dating) then that is not considered sexual harassment.
Employees often do not understand the full scope of unwelcome conduct and harassment in the workplace. As an employee, you need to know the different types of sexual harassment and what you should do if you encounter such a problem. At EasyLlama, we train employees and employers on how to handle sexual harassment, including unwelcome behavior harassment, to ensure that all employees can work in an environment that is not hostile, intimidating, or offensive. Employers should protect employees from sexual harassment by acting accordingly once an incident of harassment has been reported.
Requests for Sexual Favors and Dates
A harasser can also ask a co-worker repeatedly to go on a date or give sexual favors. Despite the co-worker refusing these offers, the harasser may still coerce them and at times the harasser uses it as a joke. However, this is unwelcome behavior and it counts as harassment because the person is not respecting your decision; instead, he or she is making you feel uncomfortable.
Unwanted Physical Touching
Unwanted physical touching is unwelcome conduct harassment. Nonconsensual touching from a co-worker or employer ends up making you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, and it is not acceptable.
Job-Related Incentives in Exchange for Sexual Favors
Sexual harassment may escalate, attempting to require an employee to give sexual favors to a supervisor or an employer in exchange for getting promoted, earning a pay raise, or retaining a job. This unwelcome conduct can cause intimidation of an employee by the employer if the employee does not give in to the sexual favors.
Sexual Materials Being Presented to You
Another example of unwelcome conduct that can affect a person negatively in the workplace is sexually suggestive material being shown or displayed to you. This can happen if a co-worker or employer suggestively shares pornography with you or has inappropriate pictures on their computer screen or screen saver. A person that exposes another co-worker or employee to view such material without their consent makes the workplace unsafe.
Offensive Sexual or Sexist Speech
If an employer or co-worker uses unwelcome sexual or sexist speech near you repeatedly, that is unwelcome conduct harassment. This kind of conduct is offensive and intimidating, even if the offender does not do anything further. For example, sexist or sexual speech can include:
- Crude sexual jokes
- Sexual gestures and references
- Derogatory language that has sexual or sexist comments
What Should You Do if You Suspect Unwelcome Behavior in the Workplace?
If you encounter unwelcome behavior harassment as an employee at your workplace, you should act immediately by reporting the harassment to the right personnel within your organization. As an employer, you should be responsible for ensuring that the workplace is safe for all employees without any discrimination or intimidation. Ensure that you have policies in place that will be used to prevent harassment or deal with harassment at your workplace.
How to address unwelcome conduct harassment in the workplace?
When unwelcome conduct harassment occurs, it should be addressed appropriately because sexual harassment complaints are serious matters that affect employees.. When addressing the complaints as an employer, these points should be kept in mind:
- All complaints should be taken seriously.
- An investigation of all complaints should be done.
- Do not make credibility judgments based on the reputation of the complainer or the accused. Remain objective until the investigation is complete.
- Do not leave the people involved to solve the issue on their own.
Employers need to define the kind of conduct that is prohibited and unacceptable in the workplace. Having clear policies and procedures about unwelcome conduct enables employees to know what is expected of them. At EasyLlama, we have policies that detail how to deal with unwelcome behavior harassment as an employee or as an employer. We are helping to train employers, supervisors, and employees so that workplaces can provide the best environment for everyone.
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