New report highlights issues related to sexual harassment

According to the United States Merit Systems Protection Board, fewer federal employees are reporting incidents of sexual harassment. However, Tennessee residents who work in federal jobs may still experience harassment, and around the country women are far more likely than men to be victims.

In the 2016 merit board study, 18 percent of women said that they had been sexually harassed at least once in the previous two years with 6 percent of men saying the same thing. That is down from 44 percent for women and 19 percent for men in a similar study conducted in 1994. Most who said that they experienced sexual harassment in the workplace indicated that their personal space had been violated. Of respondents, 12 percent of women and 3 percent of men reported that it had happened to them, and this was down from 24 percent for women and 8 percent for men in 1994.

Unwelcome sexual teasing, being subject to jokes and being subject to unwanted comments or questions were among other types of sexual harassment reported. Sexually suggestive looks were another common complaint among both men and women. According to the MSPB, employers should continue to educate employees about proper conduct in the workplace. It also said that further reports would look into risk factors for sexual harassment and how to prevent it from happening.

Workers who experience a hostile working environment because of their gender may have legal recourse. However, it is important to follow internal procedures first. If the situation is not rectified, then an attorney could provide advice as to the next steps to take.

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