3 Tips For Preventing Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

September 9, 2013

ID-10025753Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, there are two basic forms of actionable sexual harassment:

1. Quid pro quo sexual harassment – is the conditioning of employment benefits or some aspect of employment on a favorable response to sexual advances in the workplace

2. Hostile environment sexual harassment – refers to sexual comments and conduct so pervasive that the workplace becomes intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

Both forms of sexual harassment involve unwelcome conduct. Yes, if we lived in a perfect world, everyone would be able to act, dress, and do whatever he or she wanted and never be bothered. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world, and often our actions and appearance can be misinterpreted. Here are some tips from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana that will help you avoid these misinterpretations:

1. Don’t Be Overly Friendly — If you are a naturally expressive person and often touch others while talking, try to control this during work hours. While you are in a professional environment, act accordingly. Also avoid telling off-color jokes and sexual innuendo in your communication. This doesn’t mean you have to be serious and boring all the time, it simply means that you need to act properly. This will avoid misunderstandings with your coworkers, especially if they are just getting to know you.

2. Dress Appropriately And Conservatively — Even if you are allowed to dress informally at your workplace or often wear jeans for casual Fridays, dress conservatively for your work. That means take care to pick clothes that aren’t too tight or too revealing. You also need to know that certain types of clothes are not appropriate in a work situation. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to dress a bit more professionally, especially if you really want to keep your coworkers from being tempted to see you as an object of interest.

3. Be Specific And Be Firm When A Comment Is Made — Despite all your efforts, there may be a coworker that keeps making inappropriate comments or keeps looking at you in a way that bothers you. Do not encourage him or her by laughing or smiling. Do be firm in your rejection. If they keep “dropping by” your work area, you have every right to ask them pointedly, “Don’t you have work to do?” or say, “I am uncomfortable with you stopping by all the time.” If a coworker tries giving you gifts, do not accept them. Although you might be worried about hurting feelings, they need to understand that such actions are not appropriate.

If you follow these tips among whatever else your common sense might dictate, you will be able to avoid some forms of harassment. If you still have problems after doing this, you might have to talk to your supervisor or report the aggressor to Human Resources.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Michal Marcol

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