Sexual harassment is unfortunately a common occurrence in the workplace. It can take on the form of verbal or physical conduct. When it occurs, it is difficult to experience, and it is important to learn the ways to effectively deal with it.
Failing to deal with sexual harassment correctly can result in not getting your claim heard. Many different ways to deal with sexual harassment exist, and the right approach to take depends on your particular situation.
Talk to the Person Directly
When the initial sexual harassment incident takes place, ask the person harassing you to stop. If your harasser continues displaying the same behavior, inform your harasser that you plan to file a report if the behavior continues. Some people discontinue their behavior once you threaten to report them. If the harasser fails to stop, you can take further action.
Find Other Victims and Witnesses
Search for other victims of sexual harassment by your harasser. You may find that some other victims have filed complaints in the past. Secure the testimony of any witnesses of your incidents in writing. This helps support your claim.
Inform Your Supervisor
If talking to your harasser did not stop the harassing behavior, report all incidents to your immediate supervisor. Write a formal letter to your supervisor detailing the events that took place. Ask your supervisor for a meeting to explain the situation in person.
Contact HR Manager
Even if you inform your supervisor, you should also contact your human resources manager. Human resources can inform you of the action you need to take concerning the sexual harassment incidents. The human resources manager should possess expert knowledge concerning sexual harassment and discrimination, and should be willing and able give you impartial advice.
Contact Senior Management
If your supervisor refuses to take action, you can file a formal complaint with your company’s senior management. Your senior manager should handle your situation with discretion and inform you of any further actions your must take. You must present all evidence and documentation concerning the incidents to senior management.
If your complaint does not result in your supervisor or senior manager taking action, you can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates sexual harassment incidents in the workplace. Inform the EEOC of your employer’s name, the name of the offender and the details surrounding the incidents.
File a Lawsuit
After you file a complaint with the EEOC, you can possibly file a lawsuit. You can seek monetary damages, or try to get your job back if your employer fired you due to the incidents. If you plan to file a lawsuit, you should seek legal representation from an attorney who handles sexual harassment cases.