HR specialist: Sexual harassment in the workplace is all too common
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Sexual harassment is not just a Hollywood tale. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says there are about 12,000 complaints filed every year in the U.S.
“The EEOC states that one in four employee faces harassment in the workplace. So we know it's still a real issue, and in HR, we think that number is underreported, actually,” said Amy Polefrone, CEO of HR Strategy Group.
Polefrone says reporting is key to ending the issue.
“There’s two types of sexual harassment: 'quid pro quo,' which is literally this for that,” said Polefrone. “What we see so much in the workplace is hostile workplace; that’s the second type of harassment - offensive jokes, checking someone out, overuse of terms of endearment, making people feel uncomfortable.”
The first and most important step to combating the issue is to tell a manager or the HR department.
If you work for a small business and there is no HR department, the issue becomes more complex. Perhaps the person committing the harassment is the top person in charge. Still, Polefrone says there are options.
“You need to let the harasser know clearly, peer or manager or owner, that the behavior is unwelcome. There's usually someone you can let know, [maybe] a board of directors. Worst-case scenario, you may need to report that situation to the Equality Employment Opportunity Commission," she said.
One other thing she adds is: know your workplace's sexual harassment policy before it happens.
Do not wait until it is an issue to learn the rules.