Sexual harassment runs rampant in the workplace, but there are ways to combat the problem while maintaining your dignity. Understanding how to be effective moving forward can help you both personally and professionally. Here are a few tips:
- Take note of the situation – If a situation is making you feel uncomfortable and it keeps occurring, start taking notes. Be sure to indicate time, place, and what happened in detail. Keeping a journal will assist.
- Note all surroundings and witnesses – If someone was around who also witnessed the incident, make sure to write down their name and what they saw. You may need their assistance in proving your case later on.
- Don’t stay quiet – If someone is harassing you, do not stay silent. Let the offender know what they are doing and that you will not stand for their behavior. You should notify the person that you will be reporting their behavior to administration and Human Resources.
- Get help immediately – It is important to report the situation to Human Resources immediately. Also tell your immediate supervisor, unless they are the offender. There may be a sexual harassment liaison or program representative to help you with this issue.
- Start investigating – If nothing happens right away, start investigating. Maybe this is a situation the administration is aware of and have done nothing because of the person’s position. Start inquiring and finding out if this has happened to anyone else on the job. When you have others in the same situation, your complaint holds more weight.
- Call the union – If you work in a union setting, now is the time to call the union representative. This person is concerned about your welfare and work conditions and will work on your behalf to get the situation resolved.
- Do not sweep it under the rug – If the offender comes back with the same actions, be firm in your attitude. Report the situation again and let the offender and everyone else around you know that this is not acceptable by your standards.
- Stay calm – When put under pressure, it is easy to lose your temper and get angry. Even if things are not going your way right now, stay calm. You want to demonstrate that you are able to keep your cool even in the face of adversity. When you lose your temper, you may be viewed as someone who is too much into their emotions and they will not take your case as seriously.
- Stay away from the offender – This may be very difficult if you work directly with this person. Speak to your supervisor to see if arrangements can be made to move you to another area in the office to keep you away from the offender.
These steps will give you leverage and help your case. It is not easy to be courageous, but standing up for your rights is important. This timeline will help you deal with the offender and get the help you need.