Sexual Harassment Toward Men in the Workplace

Defying long-held assumptions about sexual harassment in the workplace, more and more men are reporting harassment either by male or female colleagues.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment cases reported by men account for 15.4% of the total 12,025 charges in 2006. In 2005, the figure was 14.3% compared to 11.6% in the middle of 1990s. This shows that sexual harassment toward men in the workplace is on the rise.

The tale of the male secretary

24-year-old Steve worked as a secretary in a well-known Miami real estate firm. He pictured a workplace environment where he could acquire knowledge about a booming industry. But what he got was a type of education that really drove him nuts and dramatically changed his assumptions about sexual harassment in the workplace.

He said that, belonging to the sexual minority in the office, he was always the target of rude comments (good and bad) about his appearance and actions. He also said that the fact that his being a male secretary was joked about by his colleagues incessantly.

Steve complained how her female boss would say how he was "too gorgeous" to wear the hideous clothes he wore. He also did not like how girls told him to "fix up" to give them "some eye candy". He quit eventually. But Steve did not mention the harassment to anyone in the company. He said he wanted to do so, but he felt so stupid and emasculated every time he tried to explain.

What constitutes sexual harassment?

How do you know if you are being sexually harassed? Is that pat on your shoulder from your superior a sign of recognition or inappropriateness? Often, the possibility of sexual harassment is on the mind of employees (both male and female), but it can be very frustrating sometimes to not know when to put a stop to things. Here are a some examples of sexual harassment scenarios commonly experienced in the workplace:

You are a receptionist and every time you call a consultant, he or she always ends the conversation by saying, ‘Thanks, hottie!"

Whenever you greet your boss, he or she always hugs you tight, despite your obvious discomfort.

After every successful project, your boss e-mails you jokingly offering a massage for a job well done.

A coworker invites you to his or her work station and makes an effort for you to notice his or her screen saver covered with dirty images and jokes.

 You are openly gay and your straight male boss always asks you whether you find him attractive or want to have sex with him.

Be vigilant

In today’s workplace, whether you are a male or a female, you have to guard your personal space and demand respect. You have every right to feel comfortable and safe and to be treated with respect and professionally on your job.


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