Being sexually harassed at work has a host of negative effects for the victim. You may lose your feeling of security at work, may feel anxious or depressed, or may need to look for another job when you would otherwise prefer to stay at your current workplace. Whether the sexual harassment you're experiencing is in the form of unwanted advances, inappropriate jokes and comments, or other types of harassment, it's time to take control of the situation. Here are three things to do when dealing with sexual harassment at work:
Tell Your Harasser to Stop
This can be nerve-wracking, but it is often helpful to tell your harasser to stop. Use clear, explicit language (such as "Do not make those jokes with me anymore because it makes me uncomfortable"). If practical, do this over email so that you have a paper trail. In some less serious cases, this may be all that is needed. Some people are ignorant about what is inappropriate in the workplace and will stop once it's pointed out.
Report the Harassment and Document Everything
If the harassment continues, it's important to report it to your supervisor or HR department. If you work at a larger company, your company handbook most likely outlines the procedure you should follow for reporting and documenting your complaint. It's very important to follow the procedure carefully and to get copies of any paper documentation. This way, you have solid evidence if your report of sexual harassment is ignored, downplayed, or not resolved in a satisfactory manner.
If you work for a small company with no HR department or proper reporting process in place, you will need to talk to your supervisor directly. Tell them exactly what occurred, and then follow up with an email that includes the name of the harasser, the date the harassment took place, and the basic details. Keep a copy of this for your own records.
Consult an Employment Lawyer
If neither of these steps leads to a resolution, it's time to consult a lawyer that works in employment law. They will discuss your situation with you, look over your documentation, and give you their expert advice for what to do next. If they decide you have a strong case, you can choose to hire them to represent you in a lawsuit against your employer.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. By following these tips, you will gain more control over your situation and help create a more just workplace.