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Males can be victims of sexual harassment too

The number of men reporting cases of sexual harassment at the workplace has increased over the years.

When people think of sexual harassment in the workplace, they usually picture a male harassing a woman in the office or at a construction site. As women continue to infiltrate a wide-range of industries in Massachusetts and across the U.S., however, the tables have turned. More men are reporting incidents of sexual harassment, where they are victimized by a woman colleague, supervisor or boss.

The numbers

In 1997, men made up 11 percent of the sexual harassment claims tracked by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 2012, this number jumped to 16.3 percent and current numbers are said to be even higher. The EEOC does not distinguish between claims made from men regarding other men sexually harassing them or women sexually harassing them. However, these numbers are thought to be under represented, as some men are afraid to report incidents of harassment. In some cases, men are embarrassed to admit they have been harassed by their female co-worker as it may show a form of weakness. Men may be too proud to claim themselves victims of abuse.

Victims of harassment

Although some incidents go unreported, it does not mean that victims of harassment are not subject to endure emotional trauma. Men may be held from advancing in the company unless they accept the sexual advances, comments or suggestions made by female bosses. Women may make threats to male colleagues or make it difficult for male victims to go to work every day. Even subtle touches on a regular basis, lewd comments and dirty jokes may be considered harassing if they occur consistently and make the employee feel uncomfortable.

Proper training

Many companies now incorporate sexual harassment training in their training process. Work environments that harbor harassing employees may be seen as hostile, and employees have the right to avoid working there. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, companies cannot retaliate against people who report an incident involving harassment, regardless of who the harasser is.

What to do

Victims of sexual harassment may want to start by typing up a complaint report. People should keep in mind that they do not have to turn it in to their boss if he or she is the harasser. Keep an open mind as to the outcome of the case. People may also want to obtain the assistance of an attorney.

Upholding your rights

Whether you are the victim of sexual harassment and need assistance handling the situation, or your company has retaliated against you after you reported a case of harassment, an attorney may be helpful to the matter. An experienced lawyer who knows the legalities involved with harassment cases may look in to the details surrounding your situation and develop a strategy to help you.

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