A large percentage of romances and relationships begin in the workplace, but even though the workplace is a fertile field for flirtation, it is also a potential minefield when it comes to sexual harassment. Surprisingly, a growing percentage of sexual harassment claims are being filed by men, so employees of both genders need to learn how to avoid being accused of sexual harassment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the percentage of charges filed by men has increased from 11.6% in 1997, to 15.9% in 2008.
What does this mean? It means that even though sexual harassment claims have been holding steady for the last few years, they are still a significant concern, and as more and more males begin to make their voices heard, it is a problem that continues to evolve rather to be resolved. In other words, anybody can find themselves accused of sexual harassment in the workplace, so we should all be conscious of how to avoid accusation.
Quite simply, the only surefire way to avoid being accused of sexual harassment is to be beyond reproach. This means resisting the temptation to make any type of comment that can possibly be mistaken for a sexual advance. This also means paying strict attention to physical contact. Since you never know who’s going to file a charge, the only safe policy is a hands-off policy. If you make it a habit to steer clear of any type of physical contact, no matter how innocuous or harmless, you will be beyond reproach.
Surely it’s easy to keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself, right? Well, according to EEOC statistics, you’d be surprised. On average, between 12,000 and 15,000 sexual harassment claims are filed each year, with only about 4% of charges being unresolved. In other words, if you are accused of sexual harassment, there’s approximately a 96% chance that you will suffer some form of repercussion, from being fired to being forced to fork over your hard-earned money in restitution.
Now let’s be completely honest; not all sexual harassment claims have merit. Many accused individuals and companies simply settle the matter out of court in order to avoid negative publicity. Nonetheless, a sexual harassment resolution often costs thousands of dollars, and will often result in loss of employment. Considering the possible consequences of a sexual harassment accusation, even if the charges have no merit, the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself.