Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WorkPlace 101 - Can A Dude Get Sexually Harassed?!?

Ever since the explosive Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill episode of the early 90's (Google it, kids), the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace has been something every employer has to make their workers aware of. While the topic is usually male on female sexual harassment, the opposite, albeit rarely, occurs as well. I mean, seriously, who could forget this scene from Disclosure?

When I heard that reports of men filing sexual harassment claims were on the rise, I started wondering if there was something to the way that Meg Ryan-looking Cougar in my office is always staring at me funny in the break room. Could I have a case on my hands? Cause you know a brotha is always tryin' to get paid without doing any actual work. Turns out, however, this latest explosion in claims is of the male/male variety.
From 1990 to 2009, the percentage of sexual harassment claims filed by men has doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent of all claims, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Women still file the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment claims with the EEOC and state and local agencies. But lawyers at the commission say they've noticed the increase in complaints by men — more than 2,000 were filed in 2009 out of about 12,700 cases.

Male claims made up about 12 percent of all cases a decade ago, but the percentage has continued to rise even as the overall number of sexual harassment complaints has declined. And last year, the percentage of lawsuits the EEOC filed on behalf of male victims hit an all-time high, making up 14 percent of all cases.

"It's certainly possible that there's more sexual harassment of men going on, but it could just be that more men are coming forward and complaining about it," said Ernest Haffner, an attorney in the EEOC's Office of Legal Counsel.

While some cases allege harassment by female supervisors or co-workers, most charges involve men harassing other men. Sometimes it's unwelcome romantic advances. Other times, men are picked on because they are gay, perceived as being gay or not considered masculine enough for the work setting.

Cases involving women making unwanted advances toward men may also be rising as women make up a growing part of the work force. The number of cases filed by men has grown steadily since a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1998 held that same-sex harassment is a valid claim under federal anti-discrimination laws.
So, it seems as if a bulk of the uptick this is phenomenon has to do with presumably straight men making presumably effeminate men feel alienated.


Sorry poor man's-Meg Ryan. If I can't get paid, you will simply need to keep your eyes off me.

I guess it does raise a question I've always wondered though. Namely, where's the thin line between sexual harassment and just being an a$$hole? Ladies, if a guy is always coming onto you in the office, always asking you out, and always flirting, but he has no ability to advance or limit your career, is that really sexual harassment or is he just annoying? Does it make a difference if the guy is "cute"? Fellas, assuming you try to holler at women you work with (and trust me, you shouldn't), do you ever feel a little uneasy about possibly being hit with an unexpected call from HR?

I wanna know what ya'll think.

Question: What's permissible at work in terms of flirting, and where is the line crossed? Have you been harassed at work? What did you do?

No is no: More men file sexual harassment claims [AP]

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