2 Jun 2022


Sexual Harassment in Workplaces

Format: APA

Academic level: University

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1127

Pages: 3

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Sexual harassment in today’s workplace has changed and to some extent has been difficult to spot. Most often than not, it is not as overly aggressive as expressed in movies. Sexual harassment can come as simply as a sexually insinuating text message in the social media platforms or a sexual comment during conversations or in meetings. The main victims of sexual harassment in workplaces have been women. Women are the most vulnerable due to their lower-paying, limited authority and lower jobstatus compared to men. According to one survey carried out by Cosmopolitan in 2015, one in every three women of the 2235 working women interviewed reported that they had experienced sexual harassment at some point in their workplaces (Vagianos, 2015). This isa huge number which also corresponds to data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which reports that of all the sexual harassment cases, 79% of the victims are women with men making 21% of the victims. This paper is going to analyze the menace of sexual harassment in workplaces, its impact on victims and employers, and how to prevent and cope with it. 

Sexual Harassment Situation and Behavior 

Sexual harassment is the unwelcomed sexual advance or behavior which most often than not leaves the victim feeling offended or intimidated (The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Right Commission, 2016). Sexual harassment is sex-based discrimination and is considered illegal in the modern society as it violates the    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . According to this law, discrimination of any employee by their sex, race, religion or nationality is prohibited. Sexual harassment comes in different ways and shades; it can be physical, written or verbal. Within the workplace context, sexual harassment happens within the confines of the workplace or in work-related events, or between colleagues away from work. Most of the time, the perpetrator of sexual harassment is usually a person in a position of authority or an individual with due influence on the victim. 51% of sexual harassment victims are harassed by supervisors (EEOC, 2016). 

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Although a sexually harassed person is the victim who is directly targeted, other times the victim could be the individual who witnesses the behavior or the harassment leaving him or her feeling offended and afflicted by it. The perpetrators could be oblivious of their acts. At times those responsible for thisbad behavior could be unaware that their behavior comprises sexual harassment (EEOC, 2016). Sexual harassment may come in the form of an individual demanding sexual favors in exchange for a benefit like a promotion or when someone makes unnecessary bodily contact and unwanted touches. It may also involve the making or utterance of sex-related comments about someone who could be a colleague or even a boss. Another example of sexual harassment is the posting of sexually explicit material on the social websites (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2016). 

Sexual harassment involves various behaviors and is motivated by different factors. This makes it difficult to understand sexual behaviors and for victims to clearly describe their ordeal. However, according to Langelan (1993), sexual harassment behavior can be categorized into four broad categories which include the predatory harasser, strategic harasser, dominant harasser and street harasser. The most prevalent type of harasser in workplaces is the dominance harasser who sexually harasses their victims to boost their egos. Predatory harasser, on the other hand, involves harassers who get sexual enjoyment or excitement from mortifying others. The harasser harasses the victims just to see how they react. Strategic harassers involve those who harass people just to maintain concession in jobs, for instance, a female boss harassing a male employee in a female dominated profession. Street harassers are those strangers who verbally or physically sexually harass victims. 

Impact of Sexual Harassment on Individuals and Employers 

The impact of sexual harassment varies differently across different individuals depending on the severity of harassment and duration of the harassment. At times sexual harassment may result in the victim feeling annoyed but on other occasions, it may leave the victim with serious psychological scars. Prolonged sexual harassment could have the same psychological effects as rape. In 1995 a female employee working at the Postal Service, Judith Coflin, took her life after prolonged sexual harassment and discrimination by her supervisors and workmates. The court later awarded her family $5.5 million as punitive and compensatory damages (Charter, 2006). Within working places, sexual harassment normally undermines victim’s sense of personal decorum, affects their ego which adversely affect their productivity. If not controlled, sexual harassment within workplaces has the potential to escalate to dangerous heights making the working environment a dangerous place for every employee to work in (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2016). Apart from expensive litigation cases, employers stand to lose if they do not control sexual harassment in workplaces in the form of reduced productivity, absenteeism, and low worker morale. 

Preventing and Responding to Sexual Harassment 

From the legal and human right point of view, it is not satisfactory to ignore cases of sexual harassment regardless of whether the victim has formally launched a complaint. As such, employers and all employees within a workstation should strive to see that the vice is prevented and responded to accordingly. To successfully tackle the menace of sexual harassment in workplaces, an anti-sexual harassment policy should be enforcement by the employer. Apart from limiting harm and reducing liability to the employer, the policy will promote equality, diversity and make the working environment conducive for everyone. Another strategy which should be employed in preventing sexual harassment in workplaces is the training of employees at least once per year. Additionally, they should also focus on giving early training on sexual harassment to new employees. Such trainings provide the platform where employees can get proper explanation of sexual harassment policy, the need of having a workplace devoid of sexual harassment and some of complaint procedures which employees can follow. Managers and supervisors should also be trained on how to spot sexual harassment within workplaces and how to handle reported cases. Managers should be very vigilant and should also take complaint cases critically. As for the victims of sexual harassment, psychological and legal counseling is advised to help victims reduce trauma and seek justice. Ignoring to report the matter or administering self-treatment is not advisable since that does not assist in reducing trauma and may further increase the effects of trauma. 

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, unethical and a bad vice with serious consequences. It affects the productivity of employees limiting them from exploring their maximum potential. Of the two sexes, women are the worst hit. To some extent, sexual harassment has prevented women from maximizing their social and economic participation in the society. Many have lost a lot of professional opportunities within the work environment. As such, everyone should strive to make the workplace safe and conducive for everyone to work. The best way of preventing sexual harassment in workplaces involves enforcement of an anti-sexual harassment policy, training of employees and supervisors. It is very critical for a clear procedure on how to handle sexual harassment in workplaces be enforced to ensure such matters are handle with the utmost seriousness they require. 


Charter, J (2006) Sexual Harassment... The BIG Issue in the Workplace, part 7. Retrieved from 


Langelan, M (1993).  Back Off: How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers . Lewiston, NY, U.S.A . Touchstone 

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2016). Sexual harassment in employment (fact sheet ). Retrieved from http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/sexual-harassment-employment-fact-sheet 

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Right Commission. (2016). Sexual harassment in the workplace . Retrieved from http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/sexual-harassment 

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (2016). Facts about Sexual Harassment. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm 

Vagianos, A. (2015). 1 In 3 Women Has Been Sexually Harassed At Work, According To Survey. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/1-in-3-women-sexually-harassed-work-cosmopolitan_n_6713814.html 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Sexual Harassment in Workplaces.


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