The workplace presents many challenges, and dealing with harassment of any kind can make your work life harder according to a employment litigation lawyer at Eric Siegel Law. There are two myths regarding sexual harassment:
- Sexual harassment is only about sex—this myth is wrong, and sexual harassment is more about a person having control over a victim due to their gender (which can include a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.)
- Only men commit sexual harassment—while most sexual harassment cases involve a man harassing a woman, the opposite can be true. Men can also harass other men, and women can harass other women. Furthermore, both parties can harass transgender people or people of different sexual orientations.
We’ll explore the five steps to take should you encounter sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Tell the Other Party to Stop
Sexual harassment comes in many forms, and while we often think of unwanted touching, words can be just as harmful. For example, a co-worker may be making what they feel are harmless jokes. However, the intention shouldn’t take priority over how you feel—if certain behaviors make you uncomfortable, you have the right to tell the other party to stop. Of course, sometimes, telling the other party to stop might be hard. Try to make it clear in these situations that you don’t welcome the behavior.
- Report the Incident to Management
If the behavior is severe or continues to happen even after you made it clear that such behavior is unwanted, then you’ll want to report the incident to management. The process of reporting the incident can look different for various workplaces. The process may involve telling your immediate supervisor or manager. Unfortunately, sometimes the offending party can be your supervisor. In that scenario, you may need to go directly to human resources. Many workplaces also have complaint procedures in place, including calling a hotline.
- Start Gathering Proof
Gathering evidence can come in many forms, such as:
- Having your complaint in writing and making a copy
- Collecting testimonies from other parties
- Recording any new instances—for example, a written record of a coworker saying or doing something to you along with the date and time
- If the harassment extends from verbal, keep a copy of items like emails, text messages, notes, etc.
- Have your employee handbook handy and highlight any sections involving sexual harassment and the workplace’s policy.
- If Necessary, Hire An Attorney
The workplace environment today has a lot of procedures and policies in place to prevent and deal with sexual harassment. However, sometimes a workplace will ignore a victim or suggest less than favorable solutions. For example, instead of firing the person who committed the act, a workplace might try firing the victim or putting them on a different shift or in a different position. These aren’t great solutions and often mean the offending party will have the chance to victimize other coworkers.