If you might have witnessed an incident of sexual assault at work or if you suspect a co-worker is dealing with workplace sexual assault, it can be hard to know what to do. Should you talk to your co-worker? Should you get involved by reporting the incident to Human Resources?
Read on to learn more about how reporting an incident of sexual harassment at work should play out.
Reporting an anonymous complaint
Many victims of workplace sexual assault are hesitant to speak up for fear of termination, employer retaliation or damage to their professional reputation. There is no anonymity for the actual sexual harassment allegation, meaning your co-worker and the aggressor would need to be named.
However, The Equal Employment Opportunity office accepts anonymous complaints of third person. That means you could report the incident without disclosing your own identity.
A complaint of sexual harassment will result in an investigation. Complaints that require an employer to investigate a potential incident of sexual harassment include instances in which an employer has only heard gossip or rumors of sexual harassment or if a witness has simply reported questionable behavior to an employer.
Investigations may address the issue with the victim or someone speaking on the victim’s behalf, the aggressor, a supervisor and/or the EEO official.
The potential victim in a sexual harassment allegation is legally protected from employer retaliation during or after the investigation whether the verdict is guilty or not. If your co-worker has asked that you report the incident for her or him, reassure your friend of their employment rights. If these rights are violated by an employer, legal action should be taken.
Contacting the DLA EEO with an allegation on the victim's behalf is easy and may make a huge difference.
For more information on related topics, such as how to identify workplace sexual harassment, issues involving employer retaliation or issues involving wrongful termination, consult with an attorney. A lawyer’s help can provide you or the victim with legal information on sexual harassment law, potential repercussions for a violation and how you may be able to prove your case.