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How to prevent workplace sexual harassment in the US?

Dec 17,2022

History is evidence of how women have suffered through oppression and limited political power. The oppression takes place regardless of ethnicity, race, nationality, caste, etc. The long-lasting timeline has also displayed the names of emerging activists who have actively engaged in the attainment of the well-deserved agency. Most groups of women started to raise their voices against the patriarchy. The Suffrage Movement in the US commenced with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. 

Historically, the US has developed a unique structure of global sisterhood. In modern times, women have become a prominent part of GDP and other economic developments. The workplaces still do not offer equal opportunities to women. This seeks to respond to the surfacing issues like sexual harassment in professional places. 

Sexual harassment can be in any form. It doesn't need to be necessarily related to sexual oppression or sexual favors, it can account for activities like verbal or physical harassment of the employee. For instance: the simplest form of sexual harassment witnessed by many women employees is the general derogatory comments about women by their colleagues. The candidate might also confront sexist comments, depending on the type of work that is assigned. It is forbidden for any employer, employee, or colleague to participate in such acts, the acts are punishable and can cause legal action against them. 

The legal structure can be different from the company in which the employee is working. Some companies take strict actions against the harasser, such as demoting them or ending their tenure with the company. However, some companies keep separate departments and effective protocols to deal with such matters. The growth and work environment are determined by the quality of the employees who are in the firm.

The U.S. government has formulated the Sexual Harassment Policy, which aims to provide a workspace free of sexual harassment. The Department of State is dedicated to delivering a sexual harassment-free workplace. Workplace sexual harassment is illegal and is not allowed. The Department will respond swiftly and appropriately to make amends if it finds a sexual harassment accusation to be credible. The principal point of contact for issues involving sexual harassment is the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR). S/OCR is in charge of conducting or supervising investigations into claims of sexual harassment. S/OCR is dedicated to making sure that all investigations of sexual harassment are carried out quickly, completely, and objectively. 

The Policy also suggests that the supervisors and other responsible Department officials who see, hear about, or have a good reason to suspect instances of probable sexual harassment must report those instances right once to S/OCR, which will either start an investigation or supervise one. As needed, S/OCR will offer advice on how to look into and deal with any potential harassment. While an inquiry is ongoing, the supervisors should take decisive action to ensure that no future apparent or alleged harassment happens. 

Following are the ways through which the harassed can address challenges of sexual harassment in the case where the company and other officials and offenders intend to resolve, can adopt any of the following ways:

  • Using a skilled mediator: To encourage conversation between the disputing parties, mediation is a non-binding method of resolving workplace conflicts. Management is required under Department policy to send a representative to the mediation session if an employee chooses to try to resolve the issue that way. The parties may pursue their claims in any other suitable forum if a resolution is not obtained. By contacting S/OCR, employees can request a mediator's aid.

  • Grievances: Civil servants who are not protected by a negotiated grievance system are not permitted to file grievances on EEO-related issues. If the governing collective bargaining agreement permits it, Civil Service personnel who are subject to a negotiated grievance system may only file a grievance alleging sexual harassment or other EEO issues. Foreign Service employees have the right to file grievances on EEO issues, but they are required to choose between filing one or the other by 3 FAM 4428. If a member of the Foreign Service decides to register a grievance, the Grievance Staff (HR/G) will look into the claims and provide a recommendation for a resolution to the Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of making agency decisions about grievances.

  • Processes for Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs): According to the complaints processing procedures listed on the S/OCR website at, FSN complaints are addressed at the post. FSNs should get in touch with the post's senior management officer and/or designated EEO counselor if they have any issues concerning the post's policies.

In a recent Quinnipiac University survey, 60% of American women voters reported having encountered sexual harassment. More than any other environment, employment is where nearly 70% of the women who experienced harassment reported it took place. Additionally, the survey indicated that nearly 90% of voters, male and female, agree that sexual harassment of women is a serious issue. Sociopolitical movement like #metoo or the suffragette movement has helped women to gain power and agency in the male-dominated world. The workplace in the US still needs alterations that attend to the needs of the women and understand the component of race as well. Although political initiatives have encouraged women to step out, the social issue still needs more attention and awareness.