Your place of work is somewhere you should feel safe. However, the reality is that many people don’t feel comfortable in their workplace. Sadly, hundreds of people every year admit to suffering from some kind of sexual harassment in the workplace, from pinching to innapproate jokes and suggestions. Moreover, thousands more are too afraid to speak up, so the real figure is unknown and probably much higher.
Examples of workplace sexual harassment
People often think that sexual harassment in the workplace only occurs from the top down. Although hierarchies of power tend to play a part in many sexual harassment cases, you could suffer unwanted advances from colleagues or customers.
Before diving into what to do about sexual harassment, let’s look at some relevant examples of it in the workplace:
- Sexual remarks about someone’s clothing or appearance
- Flirting or suggestive gesturing
- Sexually offensive jokes
- Asking intrusive questions regarding someone’s sex life
- Displaying or sharing pornographic content
- Touching someone without consent
- Rape or sexual assault
The sexual harassment training requirements for employers vary by state. Thus, it is not only ethical but also a legal requirement. In New York State, for example, employers must provide this type of training to all employees annually. Online training courses provide a flexible way for organizations to comply with the state-wide regulations for harassment training for New York state set by the NYS Department of Labor in conjunction with the NYS Division of Human Rights.
Evaluate your situation
Before you notify the company, make sure to evaluate your situation thoroughly. Ask yourself whether this person has made you feel uncomfortable and, if so, when and how they did this. It can be worthwhile to write down all the details so you won’t forget anything.
In less serious cases, you could ask your co-worker to stop making inappropriate jokes and express how they make you feel uncomfortable. However, this is highly dependent on the severity of the situation. Nevertheless, you should never do this if you feel unsafe approaching the individual.
Follow your company protocol
If you’ve evaluated the situation and can confirm that sexual harassment is occurring, you must immediately contact a superior and make a formal complaint. Organizations will have different procedures, so ask a manager what the best way to proceed is based on the company-wide policy.
Make sure to get a copy of your complaint in writing. Doing so will prove that your employer received notice of the sexual harassment. Among the necessary details to include in the complaint are the date of the event, location, what happened, and if there were any witnesses.
Contact a lawyer
Finally, if you think you have a potential sexual harassment case, contact a group of lawyers, such as HKM Employment Attorneys. The experienced team will help you put the pieces of your claim together and be by your side.
Make sure you act quickly, as you could lose the case if you don’t file a claim within the advised time frame. Many lawyers will offer a free initial consultation session to help determine whether you have a case. They will then advise how to proceed legally if you want to do so.
Report sexual harassment in the workplace and anywhere else
Reporting any incident of sexual harassment is essential, no matter how large or small the severity of the case. Failing to report these kinds of actions could lead to bigger problems down the line.
Sexual harassment violates the law. It violates you.
Although dealing with the nuances of sexual harassment in the workplace can be both triggering and tiring, it’s important to do so no matter what. Your experience could help prevent further instances from occurring in the future. You could help others. And you don’t deserve this treatment.
Plus, if you report the incident, you may inspire another person to feel brave enough to come forward to share their story. You may also prevent future wrongdoing in your workplace by stopping the harasser from doing it to someone else.
2 thoughts on “What is sexual harassment & what to do about it in the workplace?”
A very insightful content. Everyone should know this. Most of the time it goes unreported. Just because of fear or shame. Or scared to lose the job which is important to survive etc. This information can create confidence, encourage and strength in them to approach to the concerned person. Nicely put up Christy.
You’re so right that the number that don’t report it is likely staggering. It’s all about creating a safe place to speak. And I appreciate your feedback and encouragement here!