As society changes there are many of our institutions and policies that need to adapt to the times. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the increasing acceptance among the American public of individuals who identify themselves as homosexual. As people in the Denver area, and all over the country, have become more accepting of same-sex couples, a few states have changed their laws to accommodate gay marriage. But what about changes to workplace policies? Could gay employees in Colorado face a different kind of sexual harassment?
That was the topic of a recent article, which noted that many employers are beginning to revisit their company policies and employee manuals in light of an increase in same-sex complaints alleging discrimination or sexual harassment. When complaints increase and employers do not have policies in place to regulate employee behavior, several employment law issues could pop up that may lead to lawsuits.
The article mentioned that complaints by men, specifically, have increased, according to statistics documented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The indications are that male employees who are gay may be subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination from other male employees. The EEOC has successfully settled a number of cases involving this type of issue.
Harassment is harassment, no matter who the victim is. The changing paradigm of American culture is seeing many more people living openly as homosexuals, and that includes employees who are just trying to go to work and do their job every day. The new parameters may make for novel legal issues, but the main focus should be on ensuring that everyone in the workplace, no matter what their sexual preference is, feels comfortable and is free from discrimination.
Source: Human Resources Executive Online, "Same-Sex Harassment Not Always about Sex," Larry Keller, Oct. 21, 2013