Maybe you were overlooked for a promotion based on your gender, or perhaps you have become the target of demeaning jokes or intimidating behaviors. If these experiences are aimed at you because of your gender or gender expression, you have legal rights. If these instances are pervasive or severe and impact your ability to perform your job, it is time to act.
What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment can happen anywhere, and it is sometimes not even about sex. If a harasser is hostile toward you or abusing authority over you because of your gender, you are experiencing sexual harassment. Frequently the harasser is a male, and the person subject to harassment is female. However, men can also be victims of sexual harassment. Sometimes sexual harassment can happen between people of the same gender and in the LGTBQ community.
Steps to Take if You Experience Sexual Harassment
Taking the right steps when you are sexually harassed is essential in getting it to stop and ensuring the harasser is held accountable. These steps can also empower you.
First, tell your harasser to stop. If you cannot or do not feel comfortable doing so, do what you can to let them know their behavior is unacceptable and unwelcome.
Next, report the harassment to management. Specifically, request that something is done to stop it. Your workplace might have sexual harassment reporting procedures that you need to follow. Whenever possible, report or document your complaint in writing and have someone you trust witness you making your complaint. Get proof that your employer received and is aware of your complaint. These steps are highly valuable if you need to prove that your employer is liable under discrimination laws.
Then, you will need to cooperate with your employer as they investigate your complaint. Be sure to participate in any preventative or corrective options given by your employer. You can also report the sexual harassment to the state and the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Steps Employers Must Take to Prevent Sexual Harassment
Employers are legally bound to taking specific actions to prevent and deal with sexual harassment. These actions include:
● All employees, managers, and agents must be given training on workplace sexual harassment and how it will be dealt with.
● Enact policies and procedures to prevent and monitor sexual harassment and the enforcement of rules. These must be shared with employees, and the employer must enforce them.
● Create clear reporting procedures
● Thoroughly and promptly investigate any reports of sexual harassment in the workplace. They must take action to stop it quickly and effectively and make sure that it will not happen again. Your employer cannot take any adverse employment actions against you to
prevent the harassment. This includes changing your work schedule or location, firing you, or changing your job.
Sexual harassment of any type and in any workplace is illegal and requires specific reporting procedures. If you are experiencing this type of harassment, or do not feel that your employer is taking necessary actions, reach out to an experienced attorney today.