Sexual harassment in workplaces in Idaho is illegal. However, it is not uncommon for victims of workplace sexual harassment to make excuses for the harasser and try to overlook the incident(s) in order to keep their job, to avoid negative influence on career progress, or out of fear of conflict or retaliation. Reporting incidents of sexual harassment can potentially stop the behavior and restore safety, respect, and dignity to your work environment. Importantly, it may also contribute to preventing the harasser from continuing to claim victims. As with most bullies, when a workplace harasser gets away with bad behavior, the behavior continues or, even worse, escalates; they have no motivation to stop.
When a sexual harassment report is successfully handled by a Blackfoot employer’s Human Resources department or a case is taken to the Boise courts and won, it sends a message that harassment is not tolerated—and reinforces everyone’s right to a safe and respectful workplace.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
According to state and federal employment law, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior in a working environment that interferes with your ability to do your job. Men and women can be victims, and they can be harassers. Harassment may be verbal (comments, insults, or jokes), physical (touching or assault), visual (pornographic materials or indecent photographs), or, at worst, rape. Courts have established that sexual harassment is determined by its effect on victims, not by a harasser’s intent.
Idaho Human Rights Act
- Job openings
- Hiring and firing decisions
- Promotions, demotions, and layoffs
- Work assignments
- Performance evaluations
- Disciplinary actions taken
- Professional references
- Terms and conditions of employment
Sexual Harassment Workplace Training and Policies
For many employers, conducting sexual-harassment awareness training and implementing anti-sexual-harassment policies and reporting procedures can greatly reduce incidents of harassment. When all employees, regardless of position in a corporate hierarchy, receive the same training and have the same behavior expectations, an employer is better able to establish a culture of inclusiveness and respect. However, not all employers make equal efforts to establish this type of culture. Sexual harassment complaints make up about half of all discrimination cases filed with the Idaho Human Rights Commission every year.
If You Have Been Harassed
If you have been harassed and your employer has anti-sexual-harassment policies and reporting procedures, the first step is to report the harassment to your manager, Human Resources department, or another trusted person. Your employer’s policies should describe your rights and protections, and their procedures should explain how to report harassment. If this process just isn’t possible at your workplace, or if you have attempted and failed to get employer support, there are many online resources and experts who can provide information about and guidance through a sexual harassment complaint.