Sexual harassment is often in the eyes of the beholder

Anyone in the workplace, either employer or employee, would find it difficult to suggest they are not aware of sexual harassment. Many resources for training and education have been expended in this area. Yet the problem still exists. Whether it's unwelcome sexual advances or creating a hostile, intimidating or offensive work atmosphere, sexual harassment is all too common throughout Tennessee and the rest of the U.S.

Part of the problem is the subtle nature of much of the type of behavior that could be viewed as sexual harassment. More to the point, an American Family Survey on the subject found how a person views certain activities that could be construed as sexual harassment largely depends on whether the individual is a man or a woman and his or her age. Generally speaking, younger people and men were less likely to believe a specific act was harassment than older individuals or women. It's more difficult to correct or avoid a type of behavior if there's difficulty in identifying it in the first place.

The gap between the genders is significant in perceiving sexual harassment in every type of activity, ranging from the most benign such as asking for a date to more offensive comments asking for sexual favors. According to the American Family Survey, more than 25 percent of women said they have had an inappropriate experience at work.

Offensive sexual comments, unwanted sexual advances, sexually explicit materials in the workplace and lewd comments all may be seen as harassment. An employment law attorney can provide guidance on workplace rights and responsibilities.

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