Everyone is talking about Harvey Weinstein as if it’s a shock that sexual harassment occurs in Hollywood.
The truth is that it is an everyday occurrence across Los Angeles, and across the country, in every industry, from glamorous to the shop around the corner. Wherever people in authority have power over others, sexual harassment occurs.
Time to step up
In the case of Harvey Weinstein, he has been done in by public opinion, and the brave stories of scores of women. Women and men are stepping up to say, “Me too.”
It is a powerful moment that has been a long time coming.
Where you work, your best bet is to seek protection and redress under California and federal law.
When is it harassment?
Think of sexual harassment as a cluster of unwanted behaviors that form a pattern of abuse:
- Creating a hostile or degrading work environment where sexual actions are either severe or pervasive.
- People leering at you, showing you suggestive pictures or t hings
- People saying unwanted things, jokes that make you uncomfortable, language that is not appropriate, sexual slurs, remarks about your body or behavior
- People touching you, even lightly, or blocking your way
- Quid pro quo: “I’ll do this for you if you do this with me”
- People retaliating against you if you say no to them or report their actions
When employers retaliate
This last point, about retaliation, is very important. A new study from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that retaliatory acts are more common than thought.
According to the study, 75 percent of workplace harassment victims experience retaliation when they speak up. To learn more about this study, and what constitutes retaliation, check out this article.
The bottom line is that sexual harassment causes you genuine harm. The stress of being targeted places stress on you above and beyond your job duties. You can be psychologically harmed. Your career can be jeopardized, just like in Hollywood. You can be financially harmed. You can be physically harmed.
The law is on your side
Sexual actions, suggestions and remarks are unlawful when they are unwanted. You have the right to demand justice under, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. FEHA is regarded nationwide as more powerful even than Title VII.
Now is the right moment to stand up and say no to those who think it is their right to abuse you. They are wrong, and you can make them very sorry for their behavior.