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Sexual Harassment on Business Trips Should Always be Reported

November 2nd, 2020
sexual harassment business trips

Whether a worker experienced sexual harassment at a jobsite or during a business trip, it is still a serious situation that needs to be handled quickly and efficiently by an employer. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of sexual nature. This type of harassment also includes:

  • Submission or rejection of sexual conduct that is made either implicitly or explicitly as a term in an individual’s employment contract.
  • Submission or rejection of sexual conduct that is used as a basis for employment decisions.
  • Sexual conduct that interferes with an individual’s work performance.

Sexual harassment is illegal, and a perpetrator can face very serious charges if they are found guilty. Harassment that is done outside of work can create a very hostile work environment once the employees are back in the office. Employers are responsible for all harassment charges, and it is important for employees to know their workplace policies in case sexual harassment occurs.

Is Sexual Harassment Common During Business Trips?

Although sexual harassment charges are usually from incidents inside the workplace, assaults can happen anywhere. According to a 2018 survey by AIG Travel and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), over 71 percent of female workers believe that they face greater risks of sexual harassment compared to their male co-workers.

Normally, on business trips, employees have dinners together, go out for drinks, and often stay in the same hotel. Some people may see this as an opportunity to get closer to another co-worker, which may turn into harassment and assault. Sexual harassment is elevated on a business trip due to the unstructured socialization and lack of supervision. People are away from the safety of their offices and do not have personal schedules they need to adhere to. This makes employees vulnerable to sexual harassment and can put them in dangerous situations.

Being away from the office or hometown does not give anyone the right to get away with assault. All laws that protect employees from sexual harassment at work apply to business trips and outside-work functions. If harassment occurs during a business trip, an employer is expected to treat the situation the same way as if it happened in the office.

Proactive and Positive Approaches Against Sexual Harassment

Many companies struggle with eliminating sexual harassment from happening in the workplace. This may be because employers are not proactively trying to educate their workers on sexual harassment and are not promoting positive atmospheres. This includes creating a focus on a positive work environment and culture while focusing less on the negatives.

Employers can also promote the idea of focusing on what they want to see and not what they do not want to see in the office. This will encourage a feeling of positivity among workers rather than spread negativity. Employers should also educate their employers on how to be better bystanders and to ensure that they know how to communicate any concerns they may have.

The creation of a safe and supportive workplace will encourage employees to act the same way outside of work. Harassment can occur at any time, such as in a work car, during a holiday party, or conference. It is a serious offense that an employer needs to take seriously. The harasser is often a person of higher seniority or is well-known within the company.

Here are some ways that employers can help prevent harassment while on business trips:

  • Do not send employees who have violated sexual harassment policies out with other workers.
  • Maintain a schedule for workers to follow while away and have employees keep an online registry of all after-hours activities.
  • Have a strict alcohol policy for all employees traveling on company time. Harassment cases increase when alcohol is involved, and maintaining a drink limit may help limit these cases.

How Do I Report Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is never the fault of the victim. A person may dress a certain way at an outside-work function, but that does not mean they are asking to be assaulted. If a worker has experienced sexual harassment, there are a few ways to report the abuse. They should immediately report the harassment to their supervisor or to the Human Resources (HR) department. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits all forms of sexual harassment and requires employers to investigate all complaints that are filed. Prompt action should be taken, and this type of complaint should be handled immediately. A harassed employee can also file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if they believe they are a victim.

What can be Done After a Report is Filed?

Once a worker has reported the incident, there are some ways that an employer can make the process safer and easier:

  • The harasser and victim should not have any contact. This will help prevent any future harassment and other dangerous situations that may arise.
  • All complaints should be taken seriously, and an investigation should start immediately. No matter where the assault occurred, employers need to make sure they are helping the victim in any way that they can and take all proper steps to report the case.
  • Do not make any rash decisions. It may be easy to blame the victim on their clothing or personality, but it is never their fault. Do not jump to conclusions, and never terminate an employee before the case has been investigated.
  • Implement employee training and company policies that provide information on sexual harassment in the workplace. There cannot be any ambiguity for what constitutes harassment; an excuse of ignorance should never be tolerated. When a new employee gets hired, have them read the policies and ensure they fully understand how serious sexual harassment is in the workplace.

What Should I Do if I am Struggling After Sexual Harassment?

If one is struggling emotionally after sexual harassment, they should contact a local victim service that will provide help. This service has staff who are trained in this type of harassment and are available to talk. If the harassment goes beyond a work-related incident, contact the local police right away. Additionally, a lawyer can help a victim file a claim to end sexual harassment at work.

The #MeToo movement has helped many sexual harassment victims come forward about assault. It is unacceptable for someone to harass another person at the workplace or outside of the office. This movement has brought a heightened recognition of workplace harassment and how destructive it can be to an employee. Prevention strategies are constantly being worked on, and it is up to an employer to provide a safe and secure environment for their employees.

Additionally, a lawyer can help a victim with sexual harassment in the workplace. A lawyer will ensure that the victim’s rights are protected.

Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Advocate for Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment

If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, contact one of our Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. for help with your case. Our dedicated team of lawyers understand the seriousness of sexual harassment, and we work hard to protect victims. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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