In basic terms, sexual harassment refers to unwanted behavior of a sexual nature that affects or violates the recipient’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or degrading environment.
No one should ever have to put up with sexual harassment, either in or outside of the workplace.
But if you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, you should take the following five important steps.
As we will see, there are several steps you can take to deal with sexual harassment at work. For instance, you can discuss your recovery options with an experienced lawyer if you choose to file a lawsuit.
But first things first.
While you spend time determining the best course of action to take, you should keep a record of every incident.
By documenting each time that the perpetrator sexually harasses you, by writing down the incidents in a notebook or in a Word document, and dating them too, you can help to prove you have been the victim of sexual harassment later on.
For instance, it will be very helpful to be able to point to specific dates, comments, and behavior if you end up filing a lawsuit to claim compensation.
After one incident of sexual harassment occurs, as long as you feel comfortable in doing so, you should make it clear to the person that his or her behavior is unwelcome and must stop.
If the person takes no notice, the next time a sexual harassment incident occurs, inform the person that you will report him or her.
That ensures the individual knows how serious his or her behavior is and it gives the person a chance to clean up his or her offensive and unwanted behavior before things escalate.
If the behavior continues, or if you do not want to confront the person directly, you should inform your manager or supervisor.
You will probably have to provide a formal verbal or written explanation of what has occurred; describing the events in as much detail as possible.
Your manager or supervisor can then take the appropriate steps.
If your company has an HR department and a complaint procedure, you should follow that procedure.
Also, if your supervisor or manager is the perpetrator of the sexual harassment, you should go directly to human resources or upper management.
As with informing a manager or supervisor about the incidents, when you talk to an HR member of staff, you will need to provide an account of the incidents. You may have to provide details through an HR management plan template.
HR or upper management can then take the appropriate steps, which will begin with talking to the person who sexually harassed you and could potentially end with that person being fired.
As mentioned earlier, you may need to consult a lawyer. If the above steps do not do anything to stop the sexual harassment, you most certainly need to get in touch with a specialist attorney who can help you explore your legal options and help you gain compensation.
But it can be useful to talk to a lawyer at any stage because sexual harassment can be a complex and confusing issue.
For instance, your manager may say that the person’s behavior does not constitute sexual harassment. By speaking to a lawyer, you can affirm that it does.
It is always valuable to seek legal advice when you are experiencing sexual harassment at work.