Sexual Harassment At Work: What Should You Do?

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 treats sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. There are largely two types of workplace sexual harassment – Quid Pro Quo and hostile work environment. Here’s what you should do if you were a victim of workplace sexual harassment. 

Document The Incident And Save Proof 

You should start by documenting the incident before you decide what you want to do. If there is more than one incident, make sure you keep a log with the date, time, and express descriptions. Creating this log will show HR that you are serious about your complaint. It will help your cause to point out specific dates, times, and places among other comments when you report the sexual misconduct

Whether the harassment involves your boss making a dirty joke or a colleague brushing up against you, make a note of it. Keep these notes in a physical format away from the workplace. 

Make It Clear The Sexual Misconduct Is Unwelcome 

The key element of sexual harassment is that the conduct or actions are unwelcome. You need to make sure you clearly make the perpetrator feel that way, if it is safe. This approach is best suited for behavior that is offensive or obnoxious, but not predatory. 

However, you should voice out your unwillingness and discomfort even when the conduct is predatory. You can let your employer know truthfully if the harassment continues that you asked for the conduct to stop and made it unwelcome. 

Consult With A Sexual Harassment Lawyer 

You don’t need a lawyer if you want to report sexual misconduct to the organization or file a claim with the EEOC. However, it is easy to get confused, especially when the situation is perplexing. It is best to consult with a sexual harassment attorney and seek advice on what kind of behavior constitutes harassment and the next steps you should take. 

The lawyer will also help you identify if there is any chance that your employer won’t respond sympathetically or kindly to the report. There are many legal firms that offer a free initial consultation. Look for lawyers that represent targets of sexual misconduct rather than the ones defending employers. 

Report The Sexual Harassment 

Most companies have detailed policies and instructions about how sexual harassment incidents should be reported. Check your paperwork and employee handbook that you received during onboarding. The process should be mentioned in your employee portal as well. You can speak with your union representative if you are a member of a union. Union representatives can serve as a vital go-between for companies and alleged victims. 

Sometimes, sexual harassment can be so severe that constitutes a crime. If you were sexually assaulted or raped during an office party, business trip or at the workplace, make sure you directly go to the law enforcement. It is recommended that you seek immediate legal help as well. 

You also have the right to file a charge with the state or local Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) and the EEOC. In fact, you may be legally required to do so under federal law before you file a lawsuit. 

Help Ensure The Workplace Sexual Harassment Doesn't Continue

Don't stand by and accept sexual harassment to yourself or another employee. If you see it happening now, it has probably happened before and could happen again if unreported.

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