Harassment isn’t easy to identify. The obvious kind is when a boss threatens to fire or demote you if you don’t submit to his or her advances. The second hostile work environment is more nebulous: it’s any unwelcome sexual conduct – jokes, touching, a raunchy photo – that creates an offensive atmosphere. The latter is more common, since many young guys don’t realise that crude behaviour can become illegal, says Dr Elizabeth Fried, author of Sex, Laws, and Stereotypes. Here’s how to set an offender straight.
Say you catch a male staffer ogling your chest. Telling human resources ASAP may be more trouble than it’s worth if his behaviour is immature rather than intimidating. So, if you merely wish to be left alone, fire back with a comment that conveys you want his behaviour to stop (e.g., ‘I should print you a copy of the company’s sexual harassment policy. You need a refresher course’). If he doesn’t stop, be more direct: ‘You’re making me uncomfortable. Please stop.’ If he still continues or gets physical, the next step is to…