Exposing the myths of sexual harassment at work

Many in New Mexico and across the country watched with interest as the #metoo movement brought the sexual harassment of celebrities and others into the spotlight. When the story faded from the headlines, they may have been happy to put it all behind them and assume the problem was gone. However, if you are a victim of sexual harassment on the job, you know it’s not that easy.

Researchers continue to learn more about the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in the workplace, its perpetrators and their victims. You may be surprised to learn some of these facts, but it is also important that you understand you are not alone and that you do have options for regaining control of your life and sending a strong message to those who persist in abusing their positions and power.

You are not powerless

Sexual harassment is not always about sex. Frequently, it is about the power one person has over another. In fact, you may feel powerless at work because of the harassment you suffer, and this is often the goal of the harasser. Unfortunately, there are so many misconceptions about sexual harassment that you and others may feel it is pointless to complain or to believe there is a way to fix the problem. One comprehensive study has made the following findings:

  • Sexual harassment is not only in professional settings or high-wage businesses but may occur in any industry, across all economic sectors.
  • While women are most often the victims of sexual harassment, men can also be targets, especially if they do not project traditionally masculine characteristics.
  • Men are not always the perpetrators of harassment. Women can also victimize on the job.
  • People of color are most often victims of harassment at work, and women of color are the most common victims.
  • In many businesses, the process of reporting harassment is flawed and may even victimize you

Bosses and co-workers are not the only ones who may harass. You may be the target of a customer, client, vendor or others you come in contact with on the job. If your employer encourages or allows this behavior, he or she may be culpable for the outcome. In many cases, that outcome includes physical and emotional illness, damage to your future opportunities or the very costly decision to leave your job.

You may have your own misconceptions about sexual harassment or even wonder if what you are experiencing qualifies as this violation of civil rights. If this is the case, you may want to take your questions to an attorney who understands federal and state sexual harassment laws.