It’s the dirty little secret in the workplace — male sexual harassment. Traditionally thought of as only a “women’s issue,” on the job sexual harassment of males is increasing. Within the last 20 years, the number of sexual harassment charges that were filed by men doubled. Just three years ago, complaints filed by men made up 16.3 percent of all charges of sexual harassment that were filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The increase can be attributed in part to men feeling more comfortable coming forth with their claims as opposed to electing to put up with the harassment or seek employment elsewhere. Other factors include higher incidences of sexually harassing behaviors that are directed toward males and the downturn of the economy in recent years. Some believe that men who are frustrated by job instability may act out negatively toward co-workers in numerous ways, which include sexually harassing those of both sexes.

A further influence can be that more companies have engaged in belt-tightening measures that include cutting back on training seminars for supervisors on harassment awareness and the tools to cope with the problem in their workplace.

But those supervisors and managers who fail to recognize and respond to the problem can become part of the hostile working environment that allows harassment to thrive. It matters not whether the harasser is another man or a woman, or group of women who consistently proffer sexually offensive remarks around their male co-workers. Sometimes, the sexual harassment can be a form of hazing or humiliation disguised as a workplace rite of passage.

Whatever the motivation behind the unwelcome sexual behavior, no male or female employee should be forced to subject themselves to it simply to earn a paycheck. Missouri employees enduring these untenable employment conditions may benefit from a consultation with a legal professional who practices employment law.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management, “Male Sexual Harassment Claims: Training Is the Best Prevention” Carolyn Rashby and Megan R. Hutchinson, Oct. 08, 2014