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Sexual harassment and orientation discrimination in a male-dominated work dynamic

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | Employment Law

No industry is safe from harassment. However, in “blue-collar” trade labor settings composed mostly of men, women and those who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum may find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted advances, offensive comments, and unsafe work environments.

Toxic employment settings

While not all workplace dynamics are the same, the toxicity can equal, if not exceed, white-collar settings. Women and LGBTQ+ individuals who enter trade unions can find themselves on the receiving end of harassing statements and inappropriate comments, making them think twice about their career decisions, with many moving on to other industries. The stories they tell their peers practically serve as a warning to stay away from those jobs.

Their male (and female) counterparts who do not engage in bad behavior yet witness the overt acts of their peers are usually of little help. Many worry about reporting such conduct with higher-ups due to fears of retaliation, specifically missed job opportunities.

A recent article in Psychology Today revealed that women are reticent when entering work settings that lack female role models, a familiar dynamic in blue-collar environments. Those that do pursue those occupations may find themselves lacking the self-confidence that they even have the skills to succeed. That self-doubt is usually fueled by a continuing barrage of inappropriate comments and unwanted advances.

LGBTQ+ workers face similar challenges. According to a report on workplace dynamics for LGBTQ+ individuals:

  • 1 in 5 have had coworkers imply they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner;
  • 53% report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while.

Those surveyed said they chose not to report negative LGBTQ+ comments to a supervisor or human resources because they don’t believe anything will be done about it, and they don’t want to hurt their relationships with coworkers.

Many industries have stepped up to put a stop to sexual harassment and orientation discrimination at work. Those who engage in such behavior lose their jobs and the allegations follow them around as they struggle to find new employment. More women and LGBTQ workers entering the blue-collar industry may still experience inappropriate conduct but eventually could find safety in numbers.