Sexual harassment, from inappropriate comments to physical advancements, can happen to anyone, anywhere. While it may seem like a safe and professional place, sexual harassment is quite common in the workplace. In fact, according to Catalyst, one in four American women experience sexual harassment in the workplace alone.
As if the latter isn’t already hard enough to hear, a majority of American women do not report sexual harassment. While this may be due to fear of retaliation or worry having to find another job, other individuals may simply not know what to do if and when they are sexually harassed at work.
What to Do If You’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work
Regardless of your sex, age, or the extremity of your harassment, consider the following steps when dealing with sexual harassment at work:
1. Make it clear to the harasser that their behavior is unwanted.
While it is never the victim’s fault that they are being sexually harassed, it’s important to note that there are always multiple perspectives to every story. What may seem like casual flirting or even an appropriate, nice gesture from your employer’s point-of-view may seem like clear sexual harassment when it is directed towards you.
That said, it’s vital that you make it clear that not only are you not only not on the same page as your employer sexually but that their behavior is absolutely uncalled for. Doing so can eliminate any misunderstandings.
2. Keep a record of the incidence(s).
From the moment sexual harassment occurs, it’s important to write down exactly what happened on both sides. Likewise, it’s important to record dates, times, locations, and other details if possible. If there were witnesses of the incidence(s), ensure to collect their perspective as well as their contact information.
3. Collect your work records.
Because your employer may try to defend themselves against your sexual harassment claim by bringing up your so-called “poor” work performance, it’s important that you have your actual work records on files. These include performance reviews, your personnel file, and other records or notes of records depicting your quality on the job.
4. Report the harassment to the appropriate individual or department.
By writing in a harassment complaint to your company’s human resource department, your supervisor, or another individual or department apart of your workplace, you may be able to end the harassment quickly before it escalates. If this doesn’t work, your next step would be to start a paper trail.
5. File a lawsuit.
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees due to their sex, national origin, religion, skin color, or race. Therefore, an employee has the right to file a lawsuit under this title to potentially receive compensation if they provide proof this act was violated.
With the help from harassment attorneys, you can be guided through the legal process and may be reimbursed from your harasser for their illegal behavior. Keep in mind that your state may have a time limit of when you can make a complaint after the harassment occurs.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is far too common today. Yet, a majority of victims fail to report it, setting both themselves and other employees at risk of future harassment.
However, the best thing to do is make it clear to your employer that their behavior is unwanted, keep a record of the harassment, collect your work records, report the incidence(s) to a department or individual of your organization, and if necessary, file a lawsuit.