What To Do If Sexually Harassed At Work

1. TELL THE HARASSER TO STOP

Often harassers are oblivious that their behavior is unwanted, offensive, and downright creepy. Be direct.

  • Tell the harasser that you don’t enjoy his or her behavior
  • Be specific about the behavior you don’t enjoy
  • Demand the behavior to stop

For example, a manager repeatedly refers to you as his Sweet Tart. Tell the manager:

  • “I don’t like when you refer to me as your Sweet Tart. Please stop” 

Confirm the conversation in writing, keeping a copy for your records:

  • “As we discussed this morning, I would appreciate if you would stop referring to me as your Sweet Tart. I hope this will not negatively impact our working relationship”

Not all harassers can handle being told to stop. Some may negatively respond by making excuses, denying everything, accusing you of wrongdoing, running to management with complaints about you, or engaging in retaliatory conduct, such as demoting, reassigning or terminating you. Immediately consult an attorney if you have been retaliated against.

2. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING

In a journal, write down:

  • A detail description of what occurred, including what was said or done and how you responded
    • Jake grabbed my waist with both hands as he passed me in the hall
    • Jake said, “You look delicious in that dress”
    • I pulled away and continued walking without saying anything
  • The date, time, location, and witnesses
  • Negative actions taken against you for rejecting the harassing behavior
  • A detail description of all meetings you’ve had with your employer about the harassment, including who was there, what was said, and what actions, if any, your employer indicated he or she would take
  • Any retaliation you experienced after complaining about the harassment

3. REPORT THE HARASSMENT TO YOUR EMPLOYER

If telling the harasser to stop doesn’t work, report the harassment. See if your employee handbook provides procedures for reporting harassment. If it doesn’t, report the harassment to the human resources department. If your company doesn’t have a human resources department, report the harassment to your supervisor or upper management.

Report the harassment in writing, preferably via email so there is a record of the report being sent to the appropriate persons.

4.TALK TO A LAWYER ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS AND OPTIONS

Consider filing a lawsuit, particularly if you suffered retaliation or if your company failed to investigate the harassment, stop the harassment, or take steps to prevent the harassment from happening again.

This is just a brief discussion on sexual harassment issues. You need to consult an attorney if you have been sexually harassed. Should you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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