In a perfect world, nobody would ever experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, the reality is much different. While it may seem unfair that you should have to take proactive steps to end harassment, doing so can help protect you and foster a better work environment for your coworkers. Here are five steps you should take if you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.
1. Tell the offending parties to stop
This is easier said than done. However, by telling the person harassing you to stop the offensive behavior, you make it clear that you do not approve of their conduct. In some cases, this may even be enough to stop the harassment dead in its tracks.
2. Take notes
You should log every instance of sexual harassment that you experience. Note the offending behavior, the parties involved, any witnesses, and the day and time. Maintaining a written record can help strengthen your case if the harassment persists.
3. Inform your employer
You may feel reluctant to report instances of sexual harassment to your employer. However, you are protected by federal law from retaliation from employers when making a harassment complaint. If your employer has a written policy for addressing issues of sexual harassment, you should follow the steps outlined in the policy.
4. Discuss your options with an attorney
Issues surrounding sexual harassment can pose their own unique set of legal challenges. It is always helpful to discuss your options with an attorney.
5. File a complaint with a state or federal agency
If you are still experiencing sexual harassment after taking all of the above steps, you should consider filing a complaint with the state or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies may decide to launch a formal investigation and can take additional steps to put an end to sexual harassment in your workplace.
You are not alone
Despite strides toward workplace equality, sexual harassment is still an ongoing problem. Harassment can affect people of all genders. If you are experiencing harassment, know that you are not alone. Options are available to help you address these issues.