Thoughts From Our Director

Workplace Harassment: What to Do

Several times each year, I facilitate Harassment Awareness workshops at our client company locations. I usually start off the program saying to the audience, “This session is called ‘awareness’ because you don’t need a lesson in how to harass; that comes a bit naturally.” It usually garners a chuckle or two.

It is sad to see the wake of accusations that are coming forward in the media today. Clearly, most people know how to harass coworkers, and do, even though by 1977, three court cases confirmed that a woman could sue her employer for harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

A male business friend of mine tells a story about the first time his employer did any education about Harassment Awareness. He thought, “Well, I just won’t talk to any woman at work anymore; that will solve it.” However, in order to do his job, he soon realized he needed to talk to women. The solution, he discovered, was to think about his remark before he made it. A good rule of thumb would be to ask yourself this: would I want my loved one (daughter, son, spouse, etc.) to be talked to or treated this way? If the answer is no, don’t say it or do it. Another thought is: would I tell the same joke or story in front of my grandmother or 5-year-old child? Again, if the answer is no, don’t let the words pass your lips.

Earlier in the week, I was at a client facilitating this session and one young man related how his wife was being treated by her boss at work. He asked about what could she do? I responded, “She can speak up and tell her boss his comments are not welcome. She can follow her company’s policy. Or at the very last resort she can find a new job. She can even talk to one of our counselors to create a plan of action.”

In an ideal world, everyone would treat each other with dignity and respect and this guy’s wife, along with many other people at work, wouldn’t have to talk to a counselor to make a plan of action. That being said, there is no shame in reaching out for help. If you or a loved one find yourself facing a problem, like workplace harassment, call us at 800-227-0905. We can help.

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