MYTH 1: Sexual harassment is the only form of unlawful harassment.
This is simply not true. Workplace harassment can be based on gender, race, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, marital status or sexual orientation.
MYTH 2: Sexual harassment laws only protect women in the workplace.
Sexual harassment is not confined to females. Men have brought charges of sexual harassment when they are faced with hostile or offensive behavior.
MYTH 3: Sexual harassment only occurs when a supervisor, executive or manager threatens job consequences for refusing a sexual advance.
Any unwelcome conduct, verbal or physical, can create a hostile work environment and constitute sexual harassment.
MYTH 4: An employee whose conduct creates a hostile environment must intend to offend for it to be considered harassment.
A sexual harassment claim does not require proof of intent to harass. Many believe their behavior is funny, cute and welcomed by everyone. What the harasser believes does not determine whether harassment has occurred.
MYTH 5: A single, isolated act cannot violate workplace harassment laws.
While persistent, pervasive behavior is required before a work environment is considered hostile, a single severe physical act, threatening behavior or extremely offensive words may suffice.
MYTH 6: The offended employee must first tell the offender that the behavior is unwelcome before complaining to human resources.
While the affected employee may want to discuss how he or she feels about the co-worker’s behavior, they are not required to do so. The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear in two prior cases that employees must have complaint procedures that allow a harassed employee several avenues to complain within the company.
MYTH 7: A manager is not obligated to take action unless a formal complaint is made.
Any manager or supervisor who notices harassing conduct must act even if the victim withdraws the complaint or leaves the workplace.
MYTH 8: A company is not liable for the conduct of customers, vendors or non-employees if they create an offensive work environment for employees.
Employers are responsible for the inappropriate actions of anyone who comes into contact with the work environment.
MYTH 9: A company cannot be liable for workplace harassment in the absence of proof of tangible job consequences.
It is not necessary for an employee to demonstrate that conduct resulted in loss of pay, benefits or status. Simply working in a hostile environment is sufficient.