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Sexual harassment in employment.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Sexual harassment in employment Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination based on sex. When someone is sexually harassed in the workplace, it can undermine their sense of personal dignity. It can prevent them from earning a living, doing their job effectively, or reaching their full potential. Sexual harassment can also poison the environment for everyone else. If left unchecked, sexual harassment in the workplace has the potential to escalate to violent behaviour. Employers that do not take steps to prevent sexual harassment can face major costs in decreased productivity, low morale, increased absenteeism and health care costs, and potential legal expenses. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, sexual harassment is “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” In some cases, one incident could be serious enough to be sexual harassment. Some examples of sexual harassment are: • asking for sex in exchange for a benefit or a favour • repeatedly asking for dates, and not taking “no” for an answer • demanding hugs • making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching • using rude or insulting language or making comments toward women 
 (or men, depending on the circumstances) • calling people sex-specific derogatory names • making sex-related comments about a person’s physical characteristi
 or actions • saying or doing something because you think a person does not conform
 to sex-role stereotypes • posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexuall
 explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including online) • making sexual jokes • bragging about sexual prowess. Both women and men may experience sexual harassment in employment, but women tend to be more vulnerable to it because they often hold lower-paying, lower-authority and lower-status jobs compared to men. At the same time, even women in positions of authority may experience sexual harassment. Example: A disgruntled employee spreads rumours about his female director, stating that she is having an affair with the company president and that she is only successful because she “slept her way to the top.” Whatever her position, portraying a female worker in a sexual way can diminish her status and image in the eyes of other employees. While sexual harassment occurs across occupations and industry sectors, it may be more common in certain types of employment, including: • male-dominated work environments (for example, the military, policing
 construction work) • jobs that are thought to be “subservient” (for example, nursing, massage 
 therapy, waitressing, the sex trade) work done in isolation (for example, live-in caregivers). Figure 1 Figure 2 66% women are unaware of sexual harassment What can I do? If you have been harassed, you could try to tell that person to stop. If it happens at the College, one thing you can do is speak to the your supervisor or faculty member or tell a Student union representative. If it happens where you live, you can notify your landlord. Although you can try to make the harassment stop, it is not your responsibility alone. 
 The College, Administration, professional associations, unions, and people who provide rental housing accommodation and other services, have to make sure that harassment does not occur on their property, in their workplaces, or in their facilities. Sexual Harassment Fact Sheet While sexual harassment has been a pervasive problem for women throughout history, only in the past three decades have feminist litigators won definition of sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and have women come forward in droves to demand remedies and institutional change. In the United States, sexual harassment in employment, housing (harassment by a landlord or building manager), or academia is illegal. What to Do if You or Someone You Know is Sexually Harassed Women around the world are beginning to tell their stories and expose the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in their societies. A 1992 International Labor Organization survey of 23 countries revealed what women already know: that sexual harassment is a major problem for women all over the world. Sexual harassment affects women's mental and physical health as well as their social and economic status. The level of tolerance for sexual harassment varies from culture to culture. For information on the incidence of and remedies for sexual harassment in a variety of countries, see Shockwaves: The Global Impact of Sexual Harassment by Susan Webb (MasterMedia Limited, New York, 1994) What Is Sexual Harassment Any of the following unwanted behavior may constitute sexual harassment: • leering • wolf whistles • discussion of one's partner's sexual inadequacies • sexual innuendo • comments about women's bodies • 'accidentally' brushing sexual parts of the body • lewd & threatening letters • tales of sexual exploitation • graphic descriptions of pornography • pressure for dates • sexually explicit gestures • unwelcome touching and hugging • sexual sneak attacks, (e.g., grabbing breasts or buttocks ) • sabotaging women's work • sexist and insulting graffiti • demanding, "Hey, baby, give me a smile" • inappropriate invitations (e.g., hot tub) • sexist jokes and cartoons • hostile put-downs of women • exaggerated, mocking 'courtesy' • public humiliation • obscene phone calls • displaying pornography in the workplace • insisting that workers wear revealing clothes • inappropriate gifts (ex. lingerie) • hooting, sucking, lip-smacking, & animal noises
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