In many workplaces across Florida, the conversation around the office water cooler has recently been focused on the ongoing spat of sexual harassment allegations involving prominent executives and politicians. In most of these situations, unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments and more serious instances of harassment have taken place in workplace environments, and they went unspoken for many years.
A salient point in the current conversation about sexual harassment and hostile work environments is related to the silence kept not just by victims but also by witnesses. A New York Times article about the disgraced Harvey Weinstein, formerly of Miramax Pictures, discussed the delicate issue of silent bystanders. Acclaimed film director Quentin Tarantino has confessed that he knew about the Weinstein case, and he now regrets not having done anything about it, particularly when he was in a position to do so.
Inappropriate attention, lewd comments and other unacceptable behaviors in the workplace should be confronted the moment they occur, and this goes for victims as well as witnesses. When coworkers are in a position of serving as confidants to victims, they should not hesitate about offering their advocacy. Men who may feel apprehensive about how they should act in these situations should talk to the women in their lives to gather courage and clarity about these delicate matters.
Workplace harassment is a thorny issue, and wrongful termination due to sexual harassment can be as much of a problem as the allegations themselves. Men and women should not be afraid to seek sexual harassment legal assistance when they feel that office politics and workplace power dynamics are stacking up against them.
Source: CNBC, “5 ways men can address –and help prevent– sexual harassment at work“, Courtney Connley, Oct. 26, 2017