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Is your employer shifting blame about sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

Workplace sexual harassment is an issue that no one should have to face. Sadly, according to the EEOC, one in four women, and one if five men, have reported facing sexual harassment while at work.

It can be even more distressing when the blame for the incident shifts from the perpetrator to the person experiencing harassment. Employers may employ various tactics to do this, either intentionally or unintentionally. The blame-shifting process can occur subtly, leaving you feeling like you brought the harassment upon yourself.

Questioning your behavior or attire

A common tactic involves questioning your behavior or dress style. Employers may hint or state outright that your actions or clothes ‘provoked’ the harassment. This is a classic method of blaming, suggesting that you invited the behavior, which is never true.

Suggesting you misunderstood

Some employers might suggest you misinterpreted the actions of the harasser. They might downplay the incident as a joke or friendly banter. This approach invalidates your feelings and experiences, making you second-guess yourself.

Highlighting your relationship with the harasser

If you have a cordial relationship with the harasser, your employer may suggest that this made the harasser believe their actions were acceptable. They may point out shared jokes or friendly interactions, hinting that the harasser could have taken them as invitations for further intimacy.

Making light of the situation

Making light of sexual harassment incidents is another method of blame-shifting. By treating it as a trivial matter, your employer effectively puts the burden on you to ‘lighten up’ or ‘get a sense of humor.’ This technique can make you feel like you are overreacting or being too sensitive.

Sidelining your concerns

Your employer might dismiss your claims, saying that focusing on business is more critical. This suggests you are distracting from the ‘real work’ and paints you as a troublemaker.

It is important to recognize these tactics for what they are – attempts to shift the blame and protect the company or the harasser. Always remember that you have the right to a safe and respectful work environment. If you experience any form of sexual harassment, know that you are not to blame. You deserve respect and dignity at your workplace.

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