Most headlines regarding workplace sexual harassment tend to focus on female employees as victims. However, male workplace sexual harassment does happen, and it tends to go unreported, especially in male-dominated industries. This serious issue can negatively impact company culture, employee morale, and job satisfaction.
Male victims of sexual harassment usually feel isolated and powerless. Many times, they’re afraid to be ridiculed or dismissed outright. As with women, the harassment can be subtle, non-verbal behavior, to overt physical assault, and have significant consequences for the mental and physical well-being of the victim. Male-to-male workplace sexual harassment is also a growing concern. It can be particularly devastating for male victims, who may feel that they cannot report it or that they will be bullied if they do. Because of this, male workplace sexual harassment is rarely reported. Instead, many men suffer in silence or end up quitting their jobs.
In recent years, however, there has been a push to acknowledge and discuss male sexual harassment in the workplace. One prominent example involved the actor Terry Crews, best known for his role in the movie “The Expendables”. He publicly spoke out about the harassment he faced at the hands of a high-powered Hollywood agent. Crews described how the agent touched his genitals at a party, despite repeated requests for him to stop. Crews’ bravery in speaking out about his experience has inspired other men to come forward with their own stories of harassment.
One of those was fellow actor Brendan Fraser. He recently spoke out about the sexual assault he too suffered years ago. Fraser alleges a powerful Hollywood executive groped him during a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2003. He added that he suffered deep emotional distress due to the incident and claims the executive had him blacklisted from Hollywood after that. This sent “The Whale” actor into a mental and professional tailspin that lasted almost two decades.
Male workplace sexual harassment doesn’t just occur in the film industry. It can happen in male-dominated industries, such as construction and manufacturing. There can be a culture that not only tolerates, but encourages crude jokes and bullying. Those who don’t want to join in are often mocked. Sometimes, this behavior is coupled with intolerance towards gay employees or those perceived to be gay.
“No one has to tolerate workplace sexual harassment,” said attorney J.J. Dominguez of The Dominguez Firm. “Any employee, be they male, female or trans has the right to work in a safe environment. If that doesn’t happen, they should report the behavior to their human resources department. If their employer does nothing to correct the problem once notified, they need to contact a sexual harassment lawyer right away,” he concluded.
Male workplace sexual harassment is a serious issue that can have devastating emotional consequences for its victims. Employers must realize they need to provide an open environment where male employees feel empowered to report inappropriate conduct without fear of being ridiculed or doubted. After all, everyone deserves to work in a safe, nurturing environment no matter who they are or what they do for a living.