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Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace

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By My Persson

So you think you have heard everything there is to know about sexual harassment; that it’s 2009 and yesterday’s news; that it might possibly happen in other workplaces, where people are less enlightened or aware perhaps, but hardly true among you and your staff?

According to a recent American study, the simple facts ,though, are that 30-50% of female employees have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their work life, and, according to the same study, about 10% of male employees have been in the same position. Furthermore, in a Japanese study from 2007, as many as 59% of the women had experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is a violation of the individual’s rights, personal integrity and autonomy. It affects not only the individual concerned, but also the entire organization. Working in an environment that allows this offensive behavior is not doing any good for the staff or the company itself.

The anxiety and stress produced by sexual harassment may often lead to employees taking time off work due to sickness. It reduces morale and makes people less efficient at work. Many employees, especially women, see no other alternative than to leave their job to seek work elsewhere. So there are real financial consequences to this even if you are not convinced by the moral arguments.

A wise manager knows the importance of creating an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. He or she knows that it can provide tremendous benefits of improved creativity, morale and teamwork, and that employees that are happy and content work better, and harder. Allowing sexual harassment to take place at your workplace will eventually have a negative effect on the productivity.

What is sexual harassment then, and how can you identify it? Harassment is unwelcome behavior that makes the other person (or people) feel uncomfortable. It makes no difference whether it’s intentional or not, since it is the victim or subject of these unwanted attentions, that judges if the conduct is offensive and unwelcome or not. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct (i.e. direct and indirect harassment). Furthermore, the victim, as well as the harasser may be male or female and the victim does not have to be of the “opposite” sex.

What often springs to mind when talking about sexual harassment is the verbal or physical conduct of a “sexual nature” such as comments on someone’s looks, touching and groping, requests for sexual favors in exchange for rewards or threats of firing and so on. What people tend to miss, however, is that the definition of “sexual” in “sexual harassment” means both “sexual” and “sex” as in “gender.”

Gender-related sexual harassment occurs much more often and is more difficult to detect. Simply put, it is when you are being persistently treated differently based solely on whether you are a man or a woman. It may involve more subtle actions such as insinuations, stereotypical comments about women and men, failure to share information, excluding people from meetings, interrupting people when they speak, to mention but a few examples.

Here is an example one of my acquaintances told me about: Claire was the only woman at a managerial position at a large international corporation in Tokyo. She told me how her male boss refused to acknowledge her presence. For instance, he never looked directly at her, or greeted her in the corridor. In fact, he hardly ever spoke to her. On rare occasions, when he needed to communicate with her, he sent his assistant to convey information or collect something from her. To top it off, meetings about tasks she was in charge of were held without her knowledge and presence, making it almost impossible for her to do her job! Eventually, when she could not change the situation (despite several attempts) she left and found a job with the key competitor! – Talk about a complete waste of human capital.

The only way to truly deal with sexual harassment is by prevention. Here are a few basic recommendations for managers and HR professionals:

  1. Management sets the “tone” for the whole organization. Be very clear in stating that no kind of discriminatory behavior will be tolerated in your organization; you set the standard: you need to be a role model. Inform others about the consequences. Follow through on any policy taken. It is your responsibility to ensure the well being of your employees.

  2. Address the problem when it happens. It will not blow over by itself but most likely get worse if you ignore it.

  3. Spend time talking to your employees. Get a sense of what is going on in the office, get to know your people, listen to them. Communication is key.

  4. It is absolutely essential to have a clear and well thought out policy for gender equality and how to deal with sexual harassment. Be sure that it contains concrete measures and goals that you can evaluate, that you can measure. Also, make sure that it’s created by someone who actually knows the topic well (bring in a sexual harassment expert if you need to). Don’t forget to implement the policy, or to follow up during the year, otherwise it’s of no use.

  5. Ensure individuals know whom to turn to if something occurs. Be clear about who the responsible person for dealing with complaints is. Also, have several contact persons: the boss, of course, but also members of staff who are trusted by others at the office (preferably both a man and a woman). HR can play a really important role in supporting this.

  6. Establish what will happen if someone makes a complaint. What measures will be taken? It is important to have a strategy for how to handle complaints, that this well known among the employees. Be sure to act fast and follow through on your policy. Don’t be afraid to talk to the people involved. Get outside help if you are inexperienced in dealing with sexual harassment. Your HR department may be able to help with this.

  7. Invest time and expense in diversity training and awareness about sexual harassment. Many types of harassment and discrimination spring from ignorance and can be easily resolved.

Sexual harassment is an organizational and structural problem, not simply an individual problem. It is generally believed that removing the offender from his or her position will resolve the situation, when the problem usually lies within the organization itself. To avoid sexual harassment you must create an organization that ensures that the working conditions are suitable for both women and men. By doing this, the whole organization will benefit from more creative and productive co-workers and employees.

My Persson is a gender equality consultant specializing in sexual harassment and gender equality at the workplace. She has a degree in gender studies from Uppsala University, Sweden. She is also an associate speaker at TELL (Tokyo English Life Line) and runs programs within the business community of Tokyo on sexual harassment.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

38 Comments
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It's difficult for Japanese managers to set a non-discriminatory tone when at their very essence Japanese workplaces are discriminatory - women are hired at lower salaries, though required to do the same work. Foreigners are hired on yearly contracts, so employers don't have to give them their annual raise or twice-yearly bonuses, effectively reducing their salaries, in many cases by as much as half. In terms of being polite to inferiors, Japanese bosses have no idea how to do that. They may think they're being polite whilst being extremely offensive - no-one dare tell them about their gaffes.

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Though the competition is fierce, this silly commentary ranks up there with the worst JT has yet to print. The writing itself would earn a C (at best) in my old high school; the repetitions are tiresome; the language flat; the logic a major stretch. And my head hurts from being bashed with the obvious. How 'bout getting a life, My Persson, 'cause you're beating a dead horse and making it even deader. Yes, "deader." The delicious subtleties of human behavior were obviously not part of your silly, dogmatic "gender studies" degree in Sweden.

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ben4short - Understood, let's see YOUR articles and linkedin profile, or full name so we can check out your background. Would be interesting to see how YOU tackle difficult issues and write about them. Oh, and make sure you are writing it in a second language. The writer did a good job and posted her thoughts for others to think about, you don't like it? move on...attacking her like that adds nothing to the discussion of the topic posted.

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I agree with ben4short This article should be in the front page of every popular newspaper in Japan for 3 months.

Many that will sink into their brains. Also sub-liminal messages too. " Please treat every co worker as an human being. "

In America, I watched a 1 day training video about sexual harrassment

Every year male and female employees should watch that. Also re fresher courses.

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Maybe that will sink into their brains. I've seen alot of sexual harrassment from the top of the food chain in my company. So, if the leader is doing the sexual harrassing what can a woman do ???? Maybe another 50 years and things will change in the work place.

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One of the most daunting problems in confronting and eliminating sexual harassment is getting companies and management to take it seriously. Truly poor articles like this half-baked, sophomoric rant make that virtually impossible.

Persson’s first disservice to readers is this:

“What is sexual harassment then, and how can you identify it? Harassment is unwelcome behavior that makes the other person (or people) feel uncomfortable.”

In a scant two sentences, the writer somehow manages to undo 40 years of work in getting sexual harassment the recognition it deserves by carelessly diluting its meaning with the inclusion of ANY form of unwanted behavior. By Persson’s estimate, having a persistent sniffle could be construed as sexual harassment, as could tossing paper airplanes from cubicle to cubicle, constantly clicking one’s pen, or being spotted picking one’s nose.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome behavior of a SEXUAL nature that makes another person (or persons) feel uncomfortable. Persson’s wholly manufactured – ahem – “definition” takes an important distinction and tosses it out the window, if for no other reason than to set up the rest of a poorly researched article filled with infantile anecdotes that have nothing whatsoever to do with actual sexual harassment.

The zinger in the article, and my personal favorite, is when the author makes this astounding leap of logic:

“What people tend to miss, however, is that the definition of “sexual” in “sexual harassment” means both “sexual” and “sex” as in “gender.””

What?

So the readers are now to believe that a boss ignoring a female employee is somehow the same as a boss, say, offering unwanted comments on the same female employee’s appearance? In one fell anecdote via hearsay, Persson has just diminished the importance of recognizing and combating sexual harassment in the workplace by lumping it in wholesale with gender discrimination, a social ill deserving of special attention in its own right.

Ms. Persson, if you’re going put yourself forth as some sort of expert on sexual harassment in the workplace, even being so presumptuous as to offer advice on how HR managers should proceed with regard to the problem, you might want to start first with a bit of actual research on the topic, rather than falling back on ill-conceived assumptions and unrelated hearsay from “a friend of a friend of a friend” to build a compelling story.

Had you actually done research for this article, you might have discovered for yourself these two desperately necessary addendums to your article:

1) ANY form of unwanted behavior in the workplace, ranging from burping loudly to being the guy with boring stories at the water cooler does NOT constitute sexual harassment. This perversion of the true definition of sexual harassment to encompass any and all types of “unwelcome behavior” not only contributes to a hostile workplace in which employees must tread on eggshells lest they offend with any transgression – it simply has to be unwanted behavior by your estimate, if you’ll recall – no matter how minor, but also insults those who have been legitimate victims of sexual harassment at work.

2) Sexual harassment and gender discrimination are NOT the same things. Yes, using sophomoric reasoning, one can see they both possess a relationship in that “sexual” happens to have the word “sex” in it, which can be taken to mean alternatively “sex” as in sexual intercourse, or “sex” as in gender. But that’s as far as the connection goes. Quite honestly, I feel embarrassed to have to point this distinction out to you, like the discomfort one might feel in having to explain the difference between “their” and “there” to an adult. When a child makes mistakes like these, it’s cute. When an adult makes the same mistake, particularly an adult who is supposed to be educated and well-versed in the topic of sexual harassment, it’s not cute in the slightest.

Once you’ve done some research, perhaps making some effort at unlocking the mysteries of logic and reasoning might be beneficial as well. This isn’t a college campus newspaper and the audience for the above piece is presumably more sophisticated. Maybe you need to take that into consideration rather than blithely taking an important social issue and turning it into hastily assembled garbage tossed together at the last minute to meet a writing deadline.

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Claire was the only woman at a managerial position at a large international corporation in Tokyo. She told me how her male boss refused to acknowledge her presence. For instance, he never looked directly at her, or greeted her in the corridor. In fact, he hardly ever spoke to her. On rare occasions, when he needed to communicate with her, he sent his assistant to convey information or collect something from her. To top it off, meetings about tasks she was in charge of were held without her knowledge and presence, making it almost impossible for her to do her job! Eventually, when she could not change the situation (despite several attempts) she left and found a job with the key competitor! – Talk about a complete waste of human capital.

Sorry, but how can you say that this is a case of sexual harassment? I'd say it's the reverse, if anything. There is NO evidence that it was because "Claire" was a woman that her boss refused to acknowledge her - he could have been xenophobic, ignorant or an idiot. Or perhaps he simply felt she wasn't needed - she may have been appointed to his section against his wishes or by a rival in the company. And the consequences were plain to see - she left. But "sekku-hara"? I don't think so.

There's a real danger of people taking articles like this seriously and treating any trivial reason for a person feeling upset with their treatment at work and using it as an excuse to claim sexual harassment, when in actual fact it is far from it. Everyone deserves respect and proper treatment at work, but people shouldn't have to tread on eggshells either. A dose of reality is what a lot of American rights activists need...

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It's difficult for Japanese managers to set a non-discriminatory tone when at their very essence Japanese workplaces are discriminatory - women are hired at lower salaries, though required to do the same work. Foreigners are hired on yearly contracts, so employers don't have to give them their annual raise or twice-yearly bonuses, effectively reducing their salaries, in many cases by as much as half. In terms of being polite to inferiors, Japanese bosses have no idea how to do that. They may think they're being polite whilst being extremely offensive - no-one dare tell them about their gaffes.

Great points.

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A friend of mine noticed that the guy at the next desk had a bikini calendar that was still turned to previous month. He jokingly asked the guy "What, is she your favourite or something?". His (female) boss overheard and scolded him for sexual harassment!

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Japan is confused about what is and isn't sexual harassment. This would be probably because in part that it is a culture that lacks human touch. If a female really dislikes a male collegue and he just touches her on the arm in a non suggestive manner then because she hates him would call it sexual harassment. If it is a collegue that she is O.K with then it is just person A. One of the trains I used to get to work there was 1 particular female that used to get into a great panic at the slightest touch from anyone. They weren't gropping her, the train was packed and she always stood agitated in the same carriage day in and day out being agitated. In the same light though at my own company I have seperated one of the directors of my company from the girls I work with because he decided that each time he gets drunk he likes grabbing their arse. The only thing to do is to seperate the individual. You can't go to the police or do a citizens arrest or anything and the only thing you can do is take them aside and ask them to calm down. Even if you could potentially ruin them, the walls that have to be broken through to get to the other side only encourages the victims just to quit rather than going through the ordeal over and over again. The laws are in place but it doesn't mean that they are adhered to or understood or nothing is known as to what to do about it, but one thing is for sure, In Japan the nail that sticks out will be hammered down and if the aggressor is of a higher position at a company why would they care what an OL's complaint is when the Prez pinches her arse when his come back would be that he was just joking and she should lighten up?

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I would love to see an article about woman that cry wolf over sexual harassment to quietly move up the company ladder, secure their job position or get rid of people they don't like. I've seen the same thing with people crying wolf over racism as well.

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Talking about sexual harrasment during a economic crisis will not do much, as most employee's will keep their mouth shut to keep their jobs

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Claire was not harassed sexually at all. She was ignored...which is quite the opposite.

One thing I like about this country is that I can compliment a female worker on a new hair cut, or nice outfit, and not feel threatened of getting a law suit thrown at me.

I know a guy that got fired for sexual harassment state side. When he was told that he was getting his own office, and he proceeded to tap his fellow coworkers on the back to say good bye in a joking manner, one of the GUYS turned him in for SH! That is messed up. I prefer to work here rather than there.

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Sexual Harassment in Japan is rampant and largely unenforced.

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Thanks Sharky, sexual harrassment is unenforced? Perhaps unpunished.

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Invest time and expense in diversity training ...

Isn't "DIVERSITY" training a codeword for being forced to accept sexual peversion - which in itself is sexual harassment?

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"Isn't "DIVERSITY" training a codeword for being forced to accept sexual peversion..."

Uhh . . . no, it's not.

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Sexual Harassment in Japan is rampant and largely unenforced.

I would hate to see what happens when they decide to enforce sexual harassment.

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Claire was not harassed sexually at all. She was ignored...which is quite the opposite.

You don't think she was being subjected to a hostile environment based on her being a woman and him being a man?

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maybe the title should be: "Dealing with sexual harassment, as defined by your home country and it historic and cultural mores in the workplace in a country you chose to come to, which if you don't like you are free to leave."

the "Claire" example, seems to be a normal business situation in Tokyo for sure, and where is the harassment?

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LFRAgain - thanks for clearing up a muddy article.

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I find it odd how some posters don't think Claire was a victim of sexual harassment even after reading the article paragraphs which go,

What people tend to miss, however, is that the definition of “sexual” in “sexual harassment” means both “sexual” and “sex” as in “gender.”

Gender-related sexual harassment occurs much more often and is more difficult to detect. Simply put, it is when you are being persistently treated differently based solely on whether you are a man or a woman. It may involve more subtle actions such as insinuations, stereotypical comments about women and men, failure to share information, excluding people from meetings, interrupting people when they speak, to mention but a few examples.

"Sex" does not mean only sexual acts, but the gender itself. The manager was simply shutting Claire out because she was a woman. Some men still believe women do not belong in certain workplaces, in certain jobs, in certain work positions. I am an architect. Some construction workers would gladly ignore the orders of a woman at the working site, regardless she is their boss and regardless the credentials and knowledge she has. It's simply put, a matter of gender culture which is changing. For me such instances have been rare, but for my mother (who is a Civil engineer) it was an everyday fight (1960's - 2000's career span). She is retired and her generation successfully opened inroads for mine.

Here in Japan, gender discrimination is more intense, it's less altered and quite pervasive. Women also act against women, belittling other women fears and concerns regarding sexual discrimination and that is one big obstacle for progress. Education is the only way to clear out misunderstandings and just reading the posts in this article I can see it's still a worldwide problem more clearly than reading statistics.

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"You don't think she was being subjected to a hostile environment based on her being a woman and him being a man?"

Being ignored in the workplace because of gender speaks to gender discrimination issues, not sexual harassment issues. Gender discrimination is predicated on the notion that one's gender is superior to another, and thus deserving of greater rewards.

Sexual harassment is predicated on the idea that sex, or more specifically, words and/or deeds that elicit or rely upon appealing to sexual arousal to produce a desired effect, for good or ill, has a place in the work environment.

"Sex" does not mean only sexual acts, but the gender itself."

Which is why there's an entirely different category of harassment covered under the term "Gender Discrimination." You can't call an apple an orange just because apples and oranges both happen to be fruits. Sexual harassment and gender bias aren't even remotely the same things and to lump them together as some sort of catch-all trump card, as My Persson attempts to do, cheapens and diminishes genuine efforts to combat both.

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LFRAgain, please do illustrate us about the legal terminology in Japan to allude to both terms in both Japanese and their official translation to English, and if both terms exist in Japan at the present. Thank you.

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Thing is, if my manager/supervisor is a good looking guy with a nice physique, it wouldn't be sexual harassment. It would be flirting. One more element that brings SH down to mere flirting - if he's rich. I've been related to women, friends with women and have worked with women for a long time. Only about 1 in 30 thinks differently than this. Whether she takes it to the next level depends on ambition, character and/or intelligence. A smart woman will work him. You know what I mean. One of our comedians in the U.S. said, "If he's old and ugly - call the police!"

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Sexual harrassment and prejudice do not exist in this country. Just ask anyone, they'll tell you.

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What annoys me more than anything are the difficult people one has to work with. I have to work with a rude, unprofessional, pushy, stubborn and bitchy Japanese lady. I hope she quits and or gets fired!!

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Wow. If people actually believed this stuff, there wouldn't be offices to work at anymore. I don't know if this writer just doesn't have a good enough grasp of English to be writing this article, but this is flat out horrible:

"What is sexual harassment then, and how can you identify it? Harassment is unwelcome behavior that makes the other person (or people) feel uncomfortable. It makes no difference whether it’s intentional or not, since it is the victim or subject of these unwanted attentions, that judges if the conduct is offensive and unwelcome or not."

Absolute rubbish. Let's get an ACTUAL definition from the National Women's Law Center:

"Sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior that happens to workers because of their sex. Frequently, the fact that it's sexual is a clear sign that, but for her (or his) sex, a worker would not have been targeted.

It includes:

* Unwelcome sexual advances * Requests for sexual favors, or * Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature When: * Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or is made a condition of employment (quid pro quo harassment, or harassment resulting in a tangible employment action), or * Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment (hostile environment harassment).

Sexual harassment may or may not involve any physical contact, and words alone may be enough to constitute either type of harassment."

Notice how every single instance of what sexual harassment constitutes explicitly includes the word "sexual".

And for Azrael who just doesn't seem like accepting what is patently the truth, here's the same breakdown of what constitutes sexual harassment translated from Japanese law:

"What is Sexual Harrassment?

Sexual harassment is where by words or actions another party is made to feel sexual dislike or disgrace and in many cases becomes a problem in the place of employment or in business relations. In most cases this involves words or actions by a male against a female.

There are criminal laws against some of this activity, depending on what happens and the seriousness of the offense, such as indecency (Criminal Code Article 176), extortion (Criminal Code Article 223), or defamation (Criminal Code Article 230) and there are also laws against stalking...

VARIETIES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

---Male employees show nude pictures on computers to female employees they do not like ---Re-employed female workers are pressured for sexual relations from the company president and if they refuse, they are fired. ---Male managers during work hours feel out female employee body parts. ---Female employees are invited out on dates by superiors, forcing the females to take long leaves from the company."

Both the National Women's Law Center and Japanese code of law make a distinct point of separating discrimination from harassment, probably because they're two entirely different things.

This completely undermines the author's other completely absurd contention that:

"What people tend to miss, however, is that the definition of 'sexual' in 'sexual harassment' means both 'sexual' and 'sex' as in 'gender.'"

It absolutely, unequivocally, and inarguably DOES NOT. It means sexual, as in SEXUAL, and THAT IS IT.

There's a whole different set of laws and regulations for gender discrimination, which LFRAgain has pointed out. It's absolutely absurd to me that someone would think to lump the two things together. Claire is absolutely NOT sexually harassed in the example mentioned above. She's a victim of discrimination and sexism. It's a horrible thing to do, it's a horrible waste of human capital. It is absolutely NOT sexual harassment.

This is a very poorly written article. If the author wants their point to actually get across, they shouldn't have massive incorrect oversights like this in the terminology department.

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Azrael,

While you're at it, why not just throw workplace bullying into your definition of sexual harassment? After all, both the perpetrator and the recipient possess genitals, right? Both are the byproduct of a sexual union, right? Viola! Bullying is sexual harassment.

I apologize for not being naive enough to fall for yours and Persson's juvenile - yes, childish - rationale, but don't get snarky with me just because I won't swoon in agreement that "sexual" means "gender" just because the letter arrangement s-e-x happens to bear a spelling relationship to both procreation and the physical characteristics of gender differentiation.

Go ahead: Look up the various definitions for the word "sex," and come back and tell everyone here how they all mean "pretty much the same thing." Please, enlighten us all with your revolutionary twist on semantics that takes the actual definitions that give human language its power and worth and toss them out the window in order to broaden our opportunities to be outraged at perceived slights. Yeah, that really helps things a lot.

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I'd have to agree that the situation given here sounds more like discrimination rather than harrassment...

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People are rude and inconsiderate to each other all the time. When a man does it to a woman, that alone doesn't make it sexual harassment. That is an assault on the serious issue of sexual harassment itself.

What happened may - depending on further facts - be sexual discrimination. But it is not sexual harassment, and anyone dishonest enough to claim this is simply contributing ignorance to this problem.

If a male manager ignored or sidelined another male manager, this is not sexual harassment. It may be discrimination, it may be a personal grudge, it may even be out of nepotism. It can be of many unfair or even illegal acts, but not sexual harassment.

Stop lying about this.

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There is sexual harassment in Japan. It is everywhere, but if it ain't broke don't fix it.

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The article is incorrect on some many levels. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination have unrelated meanings and the author of the article seems to have a difficult time differentiating the two. The example of “sexual harassment” the author cited could be classified as gender discrimination, prejudice, indifference or the innocent act misinterpreted. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since some previous articles posted included such errors as well.

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In addition to LuminousArc’s illustrations, other examples of sexual harassment includes: constantly commenting on or complimenting a female worker on her décolletage or her endowment (breasts, buttocks, etc), nude pictures in the office that is visible to all employees (unless the office is an Adult Entertaintment or AV company), a worker asking a co-worker about his/her endowments, making sexual remarks, an employer requesting/demanding a date with female employee or vice versa, demanding sexual favors for promotion (a BIG NO NO), restricting to provocative dress code for employees (unless adult entertainment actors/actresses which is necessary for their chosen profession) and so on. I’m not sure of Japan’s classification of what would be considered as sexual harassment. The examples listed above are sexual harassment in the U.S. In the U.S., one has to be cautious with their words and actions because they may be presented with sexual harassment lawsuit.

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In the US at least, sexual harassment is a subset of discrimination based on sex (gender). Gender discrimination in the workplace became illegal in the US in 1964 upon passage of the Civil Rights Act. Sexual harassment was not illegal until 1986, when the Supreme Court said that it constituted discrimination based on sex.

Saying or doing things of a sexual nature that offend a co-worker is sexual harassment. Refusing to deal with a co-worker because of gender may be discrimination, but it isn't harassment.

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At a lot of companies in Canada, the sexual part is left out and it's simply called harassment. It doesn't matter whether you're male or female, so things such as bullying would also be covered.

My complaint about it is summed up quite nicely in these sentences,

Harassment is unwelcome behavior that makes the other person (or people) feel uncomfortable. It makes no difference whether it’s intentional or not, since it is the victim or subject of these unwanted attentions, that judges if the conduct is offensive and unwelcome or not.

At my current workplace a female colleague has expressed discomfort over the fact that a male colleague in the next office changes from street clothes into jogging clothes in his office. His door is closed when he changes, but it bothers her. Using the definition above, he could be disciplined for sexual harassment if she chose to file a complaint.

It doesn't matter whether a sensible person would or would not be offended. It's all to do with the sensibilities of everyone else. When you're in a multicultural workplace the potential for offending someone is unlimited.

Of course, at my last job in Japan, I was on the company "sexual harassment committee" with a man who'd been caught having sex with an underling in his office. Needless to say, we didn't make a lot of progress as a committee.

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What I have heard in the Japanese workforce:

If the girl likes a man and the man makes some comment about her shirt, clothes, etc, she sees it as a compliment.

If the girl does NOT like the man and he says the same (as stated above), she calls it sexual harassment. Surely it isnt wise to say anything to anyone that may hurt them or make them feel uncomfortable, but where can we draw the line?

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Dear Ministry of Labor Team,

For god sake, wake up, and acknowledge the plague of harassment.

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