Sexual Harassment Or “Just A Bit Of Banter”?
I read an interesting piece in the UK’s Personnel Today about the perils of seemingly innocent (or not) “sexual banter:”
“How many times have we heard sexual harassment in the workplace dismissed as ‘just a bit of banter’? It may seem like a joke or even a compliment to those who have never experienced it – but those who have will know just how undermining, humiliating and sometimes terrifying it can be.”
The article referred to a recent report on sexual harassment put out by The Trade Unions Congress in London which, among many other stats, found that 52% of women have experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment but only one in five reported it to the employer.
This may be the UK – but the overall findings of the report are consistent with the US.
The Personnel Today article published an interesting list of ten myths about sexual harassment, with discussion and legal citations, which I recommend to all readers, not just UK readers.
The ten myths they listed are:
“Banter” is not sexual harassment.
It is not sexual harassment if the victim does not complain.
A single comment that is not repeated cannot be sexual harassment.
A benign motive is a defence against a sexual harassment allegation.
A compliment cannot be sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment always involves a physical act.
An allegation of sexual harassment is considered only from the viewpoint of the victim.
A subordinate cannot sexually harass a manager.
Only the person towards whom the behaviour is directed can bring a sexual harassment claim.
Sexual harassment can be committed only by a man against a woman.
Takeaway: UK or US – the statistics are the same, as are the myths about sexual harassment.