You may see sexual harassment every day at work. For example, perhaps your boss makes suggestive comments to half the females in the office, but not to you. Maybe your boss licks or smacks his lips around certain women and gives them long stares.
This harassment is not directed at you, but it affects you quite a bit. Many thoughts may run through your mind: “Why these women and not me?” “How gross.” “Beth obviously cannot stand his attention, so why does he persist?” “Why do men have to be so disrespectful?” At the very least, the harassment distracts you from doing your work and can affect its quality. In some cases, it may follow you home, with thoughts about the hostile workplace environment sneaking into your leisure activities and personal life. Is there anything you can do? Yes!
You can still make a complaint
Because the harassment plays a role in your ability to work, you have the standing to make a complaint about indirect harassment. To make your claim stronger, try to document the instances of harassment, who they were directed toward, who was behind them, where you were and how these acts affect your ability to work.
You cannot be fired for making a complaint
The law says that the company cannot fire you for making a harassment complaint, nor can the company try to retaliate in other ways. That said, you are probably (understandably!) reluctant about speaking up. Maybe you have even spoken with some of the women being directly harassed and they do not seem to mind or just accept it as a fact of work life.
So, you might feel like you are not being a team player if you report the harassment and possibly sully your company’s reputation. However, you do have the absolute right to make a complaint without fear of being punished and to seek compensation for your emotional distress and other consequences of the harassment.