Sexual harassment remains a significant problem in the workplace

Although workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under both federal law and under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, it continues to remain a persistent problem. A recent article published in USA Today noted that some 90 percent of women in restaurant jobs that depend on tips reported experiencing sexual harassment on a regular basis. In the article it was observed that sexual harassment was "endemic to the restaurant industry."

Women in non-restaurant jobs are also subjected to a high incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Care2 website reports on a study undertaken by several universities that found that 71 percent of women scientists surveyed reported being sexually harassed by colleagues while at work. Moreover, one in four female scientists reported being subjected to unwanted physical contact from fellow scientists.

The author of an article published in Business Insurance magazine observes that sexual harassment in the workplace is now facilitated by way of emails and texting. People often feel more comfortable sending inappropriate sexually charged materials to coworkers via email or text messages than they would in delivering them in person. Unfortunately, modern technology has now enabled someone to harass a coworker without actually being face to face with them. A sexually charged hostile work environment can now emanate from a text sent from down the hall or from another floor.

Many acts of sexual harassment are never reported, according to the Fast Company website. This is because serial harassers often target women who have certain traits or disadvantages. For example, harassers may seek out inexperienced young employees or single mothers who depend on a paycheck. Others may target timid personality types who the harasser may believe will have a hard time standing up for herself.

Handling harassment

AllWomensTalk.com notes that dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace can be challenging and difficult. Often, there are no witnesses to the incident. Moreover, since harassers realize that what they are doing is wrong, they are often clever enough to keep what they are doing hidden from the disapproving eyes of others.

For those subjected to acts of workplace sexual harassment, the key is to take steps to ensure that the harassment stops and that the perpetrator does not get away with the harassment. The following are tips offered by the AllWomensTalk.com website on how to handle workplace harassment:

  • Confront the harasser immediately and make it extremely clear that you find his or her behavior to be unacceptable and that you will not permit it to continue.
  • Inform your supervisor of the harassment. Also take the opportunity to report the harassment to someone in the human resources department.
  • Try to find out if any of your coworkers are being harassed and encourage them to file a report.
  • Keep calm when dealing with the harasser and avoid from lashing out physically or verbally in such a manner as to make it appear that you are the person who is in the wrong.
  • Keep a record of all incidents together with times and dates.
  • If there were witnesses to the harassment, try to secure their testimony since this would help support your claims.

Seek legal advice

Sexual harassment is wrong and no one should have to put up with it in the workplace. If you are being subjected to acts of sexual harassment that have created a hostile work environment, you should contact an Arizona attorney experienced in handling employment law cases as soon as possible.