Things to Know When Dealing with Sexual Harassment on the Job
Sexual harassment can never be easy. It can be a very confusing time, especially if you feel you do not have any recourse. There are certain things you need to know to make sure you keep a level head regardless of what happens. Here are a few facts:
- Do not quit. If you are sexually harassed, you are the victim. Don't quit your job because you feel embarrassed, because you've done nothing wrong. If you quit and don't see your claim through, you may be terminating your rights. Once you've reported the actions, sit back and wait. You want to make sure you have every option and opportunity to get your claims heard.
- Know the policy. Every company should have a written sexual harassment policy. Find it and note the steps of action. Report the incident to the designated representative. If nothing happens, keep moving up the chain of command.
- Write it down. It is easy to get facts confused once you start moving forward. Put your complaint in writing and start keeping a journal to make sure nothing is overlooked. Make sure you keep a copy of any correspondence you turn in to make sure nothing disappears. If you're reporting sexual harassment, make sure you note your complaint as sexual harassment instead of a hostile environment. This will keep you protected under the law.
- Sexual harassment does not have to be completely sexual. You don't have to be touched for your complaint to fall under sexual harassment. If you've been targeted because of your gender, given different assignments or being demeaned for any reason, this also falls under that category. Report any behavior of this nature immediately.
- A lawsuit doesn't occur with one incident. It's very rare that one incident results in a full-blown lawsuit. Sexual harassment lawsuits are usually based on situations that are very severe and frequent that your employment conditions are harmed. One instance may start laying the foundation, but it's important to report any instance of the harassment. Your employer must investigate all allegations of sexual harassment and take action. If you start being treated differently, keep reporting the abuse, and report anyone who joins in the mistreatment.
- The harassed person may not be fired. Your employer may have to build a case for the person to be fired. As long as you have reported the situation and they have addressed it, keep working. Harassers have a hard time complying if they have never been reprimanded.
- This happens a lot. Sexual harassment happens every day. Know that you are not alone, and do not keep quiet about the situation. You can bring charges against your employer for not taking action.
If your safety is threatened, it may be time to quit and contact the authorities, or if you are about to have a breakdown because nothing has been done. This is when you must take matters into your own hands and contact an attorney.