The surprising number of men who complain of workplace sexual harassmentNews 

The surprising number of men who complain of workplace sexual harassment


The surprising number of men who complain of workplace sexual harassment

Almost a fifth of workplace sexual harassment complaints are filed by men, according to a new report.

Nearly one in five — about 17 percent — of complaints filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission come from men, who are often targeted for not being masculine enough, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

“It’s about dominating or humiliating others,” said Jennifer Berdahl, a professor at the University of British Columbia who studies sexual harassment and gender stereotypes in the workplace.

The rate at which men get harassed in the workplace has stayed consistent over the past decade, the paper reported.


Over the past 10 years, the EEOC has launched cases on behalf of men working at a Christmas tree farm in Oregon, against the Charlotte, NC-based operator of a Golden Corral restaurant and against Chipotle.

In one case, Perry Funk, a nuclear worker from Lynchburg, Virginia, filed an EEOC claim against his employer, BMX Technologies, which makes nuclear reactors for submarines and aircraft carriers for the US Navy.

Funk, 53, said he was initially hesitant to talk about what was going on at work.

“You are a man. You should be able to protect yourself,” he recalled thinking to himself.

But he started getting anxious and angry that a male co-worker would brag to him about his penis, offer to go the bathroom with him and tell others that Funk had performed sexual acts on him.

“It was so humiliating,” he said.

The harassment lasted three years, Funk said.

“It started out game playing, joking,” he said. “It got worse and worse.”

Sexual harassment is generally underreported, but especially by men, said Ernie Haffner, an attorney adviser in the Title VII division of the EEOC.

Men are often too embarrassed to report or are afraid no one will believe them.

“There’s a stereotype that men should not be bothered by it,” Haffner said.

Funk was finally able to label the behavior sexual harassment to himself after the co-worker unzipped his fly and put his crotch next to Funk’s face.

He said a supervisor told him to “look past it” since the pervy co-worker would be retiring soon. Funk began dreading to go to work and couldn’t sleep. He then filed a complaint with the EEOC.

An internal investigation by the company sent to the EEOC found that Funk’s colleague did make regular sexual comments and proposition him, but that the company wasn’t at fault because it took “swift action” to correct the behavior.

Funk’s supervisor, the co-worker accused of harassment and another co-worker were all fired or retired, the investigation said.

The EEOC closed its probe but let Funk know that he had the right to sue.

Funk filed a still-pending claim two years ago claiming the company discriminated against him by allowing the harassment and by letting co-workers retaliate against him for reporting it.

Funk still goes to work every day, as he has for over 15 years, but says that many employees call him a “snitch” and a “whistleblower.”

He’s used to people telling dirty jokes at work, he said, but what he was subjected to went too far.

“When a guy says stop, that means stop,” he said.


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