Just like women, men may fall victim to sexual harassment in the workplace. According to a recent study, men may also often receive less sympathy for their claims from managers, colleagues and others. Consequently, it may be more difficult for men to fight sexual harassment at work.
Men may be targets of sexual harassment from either male or female coworkers or managers. Still, when men are the victims, many instances of sexual harassment go unreported. Two theories may explain why men have a more difficult time finding someone to take their sexual harassment complaints seriously.
The Social behavior theory
Social behavior theory hypothesizes that men and women behave according to gender roles. Because women have traditionally been the victims of sexual harassment at work, men should not complain about sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Script theory
According to script theory, men follow a different social script than women. While a female employee may hate sexual harassment, the theory goes, men should not mind sexualized behaviors in the workplace or anywhere else.
Your legal rights
Whether due to the social behavior theory or the script theory, as a man, you may face some deeply ingrained roadblocks to reporting sexual harassment and stopping unwanted behaviors. Fortunately, the law is on your side.
If your employer takes adverse employment action against you for filing a claim or otherwise asserting your legal rights, you may have a valid retaliation argument. Similarly, if your coworkers or managers mock, harass or belittle you, you may have further evidence of sexual harassment at work.
Ultimately, you should not let a lack of sympathy for your sexual harassment complaint dissuade you from taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your career.