Despite advancing social awareness, upon hearing a reference to sexual harassment at work, most people today automatically picture or think about a woman being harassed in some form by a man. That woman may also commonly hold a position of lower rank compared to the alleged male harasser.
Certainly, many instances of sexual harassment involve inappropriate actions on the part of a male superior directed toward a female employee or coworker. However, these are far from the only scenarios in which a person may experience sexual harassment at work.
Multiple forms of sexual harassment
As explained by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment may involve physical actions like one person touching another. Sexual harassment may also be characterized by comments made by one person to another person or in the presence of another person. When the physical actions or comments are unwelcome and repeated, they may create a hostile work environment.
These situations may involve people of opposite genders or people of the same gender.
Same-sex harassment and employer understanding
A report by USA Today indicates that some allegations of sexual harassment involving a person of the same gender may not always be taken seriously by an employer. They may also be downplayed in comparison to allegations in which the parties are of different sexes, even when all other details remain the same.
People making reports may need to escalate matters to other members of staff within the company should their initial complaints be unaddressed. In some cases, employees may consider filing reports with the EEOC to get the help they need.