“Reverse” Sexual Harassment

Hear the term “reverse sexual harassment” and most folks recognize that this phrase describes sexual harassment that is “female to male.”   However, it is still plain old “sexual harassment.”

While such reverse sexual harassment has resulted more than a few plot lines in movies, it has been viewed as situational comedy because it seems to buck the stereotype of the aggressive male in hot pursuit of the dewy female.   In the real world, it is not so funny.

The EEOC and the law do not buy into the idea that only women can be sexually harassed.  The law is far broader and prohibits harassment in the workplace that may be male to female, female to male, or same-sex/gender.  A recent example of this sort of role reversal demonstrates that Title VII protects individuals from harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace, no matter the victim’s sex (or sexual orientation).   Indeed, some legal experts suggest that employers should be even more wary of a “reverse” harassment or discrimination scenario where juries may find cause to issue greater punitive damages – in part – because what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

The moral of the story for employers is to take all complaints of sexual harassment or related inappropriate conduct seriously by conducting an appropriate and reasonable investigation, whether using an internal investigator or an external workplace investigator, like those at One Mediation.

 

 

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