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Myths and misconceptions about workplace sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a common occurrence in the workplace, but some believe it is underreported. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that the number of sex-based harassment allegations has remained about the same over the past six years. In 2016, the EEOC received 12,860 reports, but this does not include charges filed with state or local agencies. One reason sexual harassment goes unreported is because of the myths surrounding the issue. 

Do you believe these misconceptions? 

  • Only women are sexually harassed. Men are the harassers. This is untrue. Men may be the stereotypical harasser, but women can harass men, too. There have also been many cases of same-sex harassment. 
  • Harassment is simply flirting or joking. It occurs because there is sexual attraction between the harasser and victim. Sexual harassment is rarely about sex, but about power and intimidation. 
  • Harassment requires a physical component. Harassment takes many forms, from verbal to physical. It can be subtle or overt. 
  • If you ignore harassment, it will stop. One of the best ways to get harassment to stop is to ask the harasser to quit. Ignoring the problem generally makes things worse. 
  • Women who dress or act provocatively are more commonly harassed. Actually, studies show that women who dress conservatively are just as likely to be victims of harassment. Blaming the harassment on how women act or dress is not acceptable. The harasser holds the responsibility for his or her actions. 
  • If you report sexual harassment, you might get fired. Sadly, many people believe this myth. The EEOC protects persons who report sexual harassment. If you do experience retaliation for making a report about harassment, you may be able to take action against the company. 

You deserve a safe place to work. If you have concerns about reporting sexual harassment, it might be a good idea to talk to an attorney about your situation. Having a knowledgeable advocate can help you find the best possible solution. 

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