Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome advances or conduct of a sexual nature. It can be verbal, physical or visual and is a serious issue that can occur in any workplace, creating a hostile environment.
To combat this problem, both the federal and Delaware governments have stringent laws in place banning sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender and sex. However, without a culture and policies that uphold the spirit and letter of these regulations, this behavior may still pervade the workplace.
Employers should conduct regular training sessions on sexual harassment awareness and prevention. This can help employees learn to recognize and avoid harassing behaviors.
Clear and accessible anti-harassment policies outlining the reporting process and the consequences of harassment are important because they erase confusion. Employees do not have to deal with uncertainty about next steps after experiencing and witnessing harassment. They also know that their employers take it seriously enough to put down rules in writing.
One way to reduce workplace harassment is by promoting a culture of open communication and support for harassed individuals. Employees need to feel safe standing up for themselves and reporting any behavior that discomforts them. They need a workplace that does not tolerate harassment and encourages not just the harassed, but also any witnesses, to report any misconduct.
The law bans workplace sexual harassment, but its illegal status does not make it non-existent. According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, between 2018 and 2021, the organization received almost 100,000 reports of workplace harassment, over a quarter of which were sexual in nature. Only by enforcing the law in the workplace, setting clear policies and fully supporting victims of harassment can workplaces minimize inappropriate sexual conduct.