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Who’s Most Likely to Be the Perpetrator of Harassment or Discrimination?

The stereotypical image of the lecherous boss is out of date. Anyone, regardless of race, color, age, religion, sex, or ancestry, could be a perpetrator of harassment or discrimination. That’s why it’s important to educate all employees.

Employers must pay special attention to the actions of their supervisors because of the power that supervisors have over their subordinates. When a supervisory employee is found to be harassing or discriminating against subordinates, the employer (company) can face stronger penalties. Supervisors do not necessarily harass or discriminate more than other employees, but when they do, their actions are more severe, and victims can feel more pressure to not report the problems for fear of retaliation.

In general, sexual harassment is not, primarily, an expression of sexual desire on the part of the harasser toward the victim. A harasser might be:

  • Trying to fit in with a peer group, e.g. “locker room talk,” “being one of the guys”
  • Consciously or subconsciously asserting power, dominance, or control over the victim, putting victims in “their place”
  • Attempting to coerce victims into acting a certain way, e.g. “don’t talk back,” “don’t ask questions,” accepting a less desirable schedule
Anyone, regardless of race, color, age, religion, sex, ancestry, could be a victim of harassment or discrimination. Those who are involved can be victims, bystanders, and in some cases, witnesses who are affected by the harassment.