In light of the #MeToo campaign and all the allegations against prominent figures, sexual harassment is on the forefront of headlines across the nation. Whether it’s a Hollywood executive, an all-star sports figure or eminent politician, the issue of unlawful harassment continues to show its pervasive face across our contemporary world.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is very real, and it happens every day.
In its most fundamental definition, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior that happens to workers because of their sex. It occurs when a person’s submission to, or rejection of, sexual advances is used as the basis for employment decisions about him or her, or submission to sexual advances is made a condition of his or her employment (quid pro quo harassment).
It may also occur when sexual conduct or gender-based hostility is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment (hostile work environment harassment). Regardless of the intent, sexual harassment in the workplace should never be tolerated. Fortunately, there are remedies.
As the agency charged with shining a light on discrimination in the state of Florida, the Florida Commission on Human Relations is committed to eradicating all forms of harassment that can impact each and every one of us. The Commission offers training to businesses, agencies and individuals, teaching them how to avoid creating or permitting a working environment where sexual harassment exists.
I encourage all employers and employees to become aware of the issue of sexual harassment and carefully address inappropriate behavior. Remember, you do not have to keep it to yourself. If you think you are a victim of sexual harassment, you can file a complaint with the Commission by visiting our website here, http://fchr.state.fl.us or by contacting us directly at (850) 488-7082.
By knowing what to do and who to call, business owners, managers and employees can assist the Commission in its goal to shine a light on sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace.
Michelle Wilson is executive director of the Florida Commission on Human Relations.