Sexual Harassment in a Workplace

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According to human rights, sexual harassment is unexpected sexual behavior which could possibly make an individual feel intimidated, humiliated or offended. It can be written, verbal or physical. Workers across the world face this kind of an issue. Many argue that sexual harassment only happens but this perception is wrong, a survey that was conducted shows that 21% of the males were reported to have undergone sexual harassment in the workplace. The frequency of such occurrence ranges from 35 percent by available local studies (Cantor et al, 2015).

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Sexual harassment is rapidly becoming a major issue in various institutions and organizations. If the proper mechanism to curb this harassment will not be put in place, it will eventually bring negative effects to the institution or the organization such as absent from work, decrease on job satisfaction and lower workers confidence to the organization (Armstrong & Jovanovich, 2015).

Types of Sexual Harassment

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment

This type of sexual harassment happens in a workplace when a supervisor or co-worker makes comments or sexual advances to a worker, while not affecting the future of the worker’s job or not affecting promotions. It makes the employee working environment hostile and offensive. These comments tend to cause some effects to the employee’s ability to discharge her duties effectively.

Examples of this type of sexual harassment include personal questions that are sexual in nature, offensive languages, offensive pictures or any kind of sexually explicit, and that physical conduct that is sexual in nature. Both the offender and the employer can face disciplinary measures in a situation where the employer is aware of the harassment yet not taking any appropriate action to prevent it.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

This type of harassment is characterized by harassers who tend to insist on sexual favors in exchange for various benefits or in exchange for certain benefits because of their seniority in an organization. These benefits include getting and keeping job promotions, projects as well as recommendations. These harassers will always pretend to be mentoring and helping but with sexual intentions. A very good example which is very common in an organization is seen when a senior employee harasses the junior.

Third-party Sexual Harassment

This type of sexual harassment happens or is committed by outsiders and not another employee. This normally happens in a hostile environment. In a situation where employee complaint about harassment from the client, immediate action should be taken by the organization to restore sanity. Another employee may replace the complainant as a way of ending the relationship with the outsider.

Causes of Sexual Harassment

There exist several causes of sexual harassment in an institution or the organization. These include having the same interest, a close relationship at work, employees depending on each other teamwork, and the personal problem which one of the employees might be undergoing through. Harassment again may occur mostly in a blue-collar environment where women work as manual laborers as well as a cellular environment where perform work is carried out in an office

Sexual harassment may affect the victim academically, professionally, socially and financially. Organizations or institutions may suffer from absenteeism, low productivity, the legal cost in a case where the matter becomes a court case. It can also result in a loss of staff. It is therefore important to understand the different causes of sexual harassment in a workplace set up.

Lack of Confidence

Sexual harassment in the workplace is comparatively a new concern mostly in Asian countries. Research shows that advocating against sexual harassment in Asia may not be easy, victims are reluctant to report the harassers to the authorities or make a complaint about them because they be possibly shy, fearful of retaliation, ashamed or may not know exactly what to do about it. Also, victims may not even understand what Is actually happening to them in sexual harassment due to the fact that, it is part of working life.

Fear and power

Fear and power have become the most cause of sexual harassment to the employees of an organization. For example, a boss or male senior employee requires to have sex with his junior employee. This act has contributed to creating fear among the victim due to fear of losing a job if she refuses to accept the demands of her boss. The victim might at the same time fear her reputation being affected if the incident spread to the public domain.

The fear of the possibility of losing employment or being treated unfairly can cause some people to agree and not handle the situation in a way that will suit own interest. The victim may not have any other alternative but to continue with the relationship out of fear of retaliation. Harassers may continue to take advantage of those individuals who are not used to speaking up for themselves since they have learned to put other peoples interested and needs over and more so above their personal interest and needs (Berrey & Nelson & Nielsen, 2017).


Socialization is one of the major causes of sexual harassment. According to some claims, people brought up together will most likely to affect their behavior. From this claim, an example of women’s dress is given which will possibly cause sexual harassment. In addition, this kind of dressing up sexily may invite different impressions from other colleagues for sexual favors at the workplace

Immaturity and Desire to Please

Young individuals fall at this category and they are frequently targeted by mature individuals due their ability or desire to please and their immaturity. The root cause of this behavior is as a result of young individuals lacking a supportive network and lack of self-esteem. Such individuals will continue to draw their support through maintaining, supporting and nurturing a relationship with others.

Association of American Medical Colleges. (2016) many victims end up falling in love with their harasser as a result of void and loneliness they have experience in their life. For those involved, accepting the small amount of money and a simple dinner date from their seniors or bosses could possibly end up being a painful and messy situation. What normally makes sexual harassment destructive and unfair is Preying on those who are an insubordinate position or weak.

Lack of Company Policies

Many organizations and companies which lack policies to curb sexual harassment are a contributing factor to the continuous sexual harassment. A number of organizations and companies do not have disciplinary measure, clear policies and more importantly the procedure of dealing with the culprits or the harassers. Also, within the company, they may be lack of proper investigative measures to do a proper investigation, psychological and stress guidance, and counseling. In view of this, there exist many people who have no idea of the seriousness and penalty of sexual harassment (Banerjee & Pawley 2013).

Poor of Complaints Channels

In many organizations and companies, many victims face distressing constraints to make any formal report about sexual harassment because they may be no proper and established procedures and steps which may possibly guide them in reporting to the appropriate office or authorities. Some even have no idea of various practices which could help them. Very few employers at the project level, have ever given or provided grievances or complaints procedure for reporting such cases of sexual harassment (Buckner et al, 2014).

Many organizations or companies to set up an office and employ people who are in charge of sexual harassment. They event do not provide email or hotline to complain to. As long as there is no existence of such office or people concern, no one will eve take sexual harassment seriously. A policy is useless as long as people do not use it, and most research shows that a very small fraction or a number of employees ever act or say anything about sexual harassing behavior (Berrey, 2015).

Impacts of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment within the workplace set up is a health problem and employment-related safety. In a situation where such harassment is not reported, the workplace becomes offensive, hostile and intimidating hence negatively affecting industrial relation climate. Those employers who condone or even ignore sexual harassment in a this given establishment may be subjected to a legal action angry worker who have suffered sexual harassment.

Impacts on Personnel

Physical and Emotional Health

Sexual harassment has got a serious effect and negative impact on the victim’s emotional and physical health. The reaction may be severe if the harassment is severe as well. The reactions which victims frequently report include depression, anxiety, weight loss, sleep disturbance, headaches and loss of appetite. Such effects can happen to a victim either at work or before going to work. The victim with time will develop a problem such as sexual dysfunctions and problems related to intimacy (Dipboye & Colella, 2013).

Decreased Work Performance

Many victims who have been found to have engaged in this type of behavior have felt that they had no other options in that situation. The main driving force was the need to keep the job and they felt that had they decline the advances, they could have possibly lost the job or face rejections at work. These, therefore, explain the reason behind giving in to the unsolicited advances. At work, the victim may not be free enough to deliver appropriate services hence decrease work performance, showing up late in order to avoid the harasser and defamation of reputation and character.

Impacts on Organization

Lost productivity

Individuals who fall victims of sexual harassment may not be able to discharge their duties and factions at the usual productivity level. If the harassers are successful in favoring certain individuals while blocking victims, the organization or company loses because the best candidate to fill technical positions may not get the opportunity to serve. Also, dealing with harassment cases may lead to time wastage and it can take away managers time which could have been used in completing the important task to the company. The principles of any workplace set up require positive interaction, cooperation, and teamwork which might not be possible in a hostile work environment. The company’s productivity will in turn suffer (Wood et al, 2017).

Higher Indirect Expenses and Turnover Rate

Company’s Employers may possibly incur various expenses as a result of health benefits, legal expenses and monetary damages awarded to the victim if the case is taken to the court, and finally sick leave. In some situations, female may choose to resign from work rather than fighting to endure hard and offensive working conditions. The company may be forced to advertise for the vacant positions left by those who resign and eventually incur training cost for the new employee. During all these processes, the company will continue to lose production.

Impacts on Social Community

Loss of Trust

Loss of trust in where the company is located and its surrounding environment as a result of sexual harassment. This may extend to the type of people occupying similar positions with harassers. Any disclosure of the victim and harassers may lead to extreme stress and can lead to loss of friends and colleagues. Friends, family, and colleagues may distance themselves from the said victim. These eventually lead to weakening and poor support network.


In a situation where a victim is sexualized publicly, the reputation will drop abruptly and may be subjected to public scrutiny. This leads to an accusation of a victim of her private life, lifestyle, and the dressing code. The victim may be subjected to humiliation by gossip and scrutiny and defamation of reputation and character.

Ways of Preventing Sexual Harassment

Personal Responsibilities

Everyone in an organization should be conscious of any possibility of engaging in sexual harassment. You should not accept any kind of jokes as well as simple dinner dates which may lead to unexpected sexual influence and that you should stay away from being too close to someone with intentions of sexual favors. Any form of harassment should be reported for appropriate actions to be taken (Banyard , 2015).

Organizational Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the organization to prevent any sexual harassment that may occur and that workers should be made aware of strict measures for those found harassing others. An organization will benefit a lot of sexual harassment is prevented completely. The benefits include increased productivity, increase employee morale, elimination of potential lawsuit and positive image of the company or the organization in the public domain (Cheung et al, 2017).


Sexual harassment should not be taken lightly in any company. Rules and regulations should be set in order to prevent any potential occurrence of such harassment. Companies which fail to set rules may suffer a lot and eventually collapse because resourceful employees may resign due to hostile environment surrounded by harassers. It is therefore important to make awareness of harassment to anyone in an organization so that no one will resign or suffer due to fear of reporting the matter for solving.


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Sexual Harassment in a Workplace. (2019, Oct 23). Retrieved from