A female recruiter in Boston has gone viral after calling out potential clients for sexual harassment on a Zoom call. During the meeting, the clients accidentally shared their screens revealing lewd messages about her. In the TikTok video, she is seen asking for a female representative to work with because she was offended by their "locker room talk." Since posting the video, she has received supportive comments but also a few from those who do not believe she faced sexual harassment. Her response?
Sexual harassment is defined in the EEOC.
What the EEOC says about Sexual Harassment
In general, "it's unlawful to harass a person because of that person's sex," according to the EEOC page on sexual harassment.
Harassment can include:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature
- Making offensive comments about women/men in general
Harassment is also considered illegal when it creates a "hostile or offensive work environment" or when it results in an employee being demoted or fired. The harasser can be of any gender, and the victim can be of the same or different gender. The harasser can also be a coworker, supervisor or manager, client or customer.
Can Sexual Harassment or Workplace Bullying Be Stopped?
Since she called out her harassers, the client's company has called their behavior "inexcusable," but she has yet to receive a genuine apology. She also said her employer supports her and will not work with the company on the call.
With her realization that sexual harassment is defined by a federal regulation like the EEOC, she feels it was within her rights to call out the men on the Zoom call. In fact, harassment of any kind must be acknowledged and talked about in the workplace. Employers must set a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment that includes what's defined by the EEOC and provide safe procedures for preventing, reporting, and addressing those that are causing someone else to feel uncomfortable.
Pre-employment and periodic background checks on employees are suggested to determine if the harasser has previous complaints against them. There may be other signs as well, such as a manager with an unusually high turnover on their team. Behavioral interviews and other references may also reveal unwelcome conduct. But most importantly, when someone claims they've been harassed, believe them.