Sexual harassment can take many forms, all leading to a hostile work environment. By law, you are protected from such harassment. The steps you take when you experience sexual harassment in the workplace are important. Handling the situation in the appropriate manner is vital for ensuring you are protected.
Inform the Harasser of Your Discomfort
The first step in any case of sexual harassment is to ask the harasser to stop immediately. Often, issues can be resolved in this manner. By speaking up, the behavior may stop because the individual doesn’t want any issues in the workplace. If it does not stop, or if the harasser specifically indicates that they do not intend to stop the offensive behavior, further action will need to be taken. Make sure that you document each incident, including the date, time, place, person involved, and the offensive behavior.
Report Sexual Harassment to Your Employer
Most companies have a policy in place for reporting sexual harassment. If you are unsure how to proceed, your company’s human resources department should be able to direct you to the right person to report the incident. Make sure you follow your company’s policy for reporting exactly as it is laid out. This will protect you if you have to take the case further.
If your company doesn’t have a policy in place for reporting sexual harassment, report it to your immediate supervisor. If it is your supervisor that is harassing you, report it to their immediate supervisor.
Reporting to the Government
If you do not get a resolution from your company after reporting through the appropriate means, and the sexual harassment continues, your next step is to report to the appropriate government agency. In California, you can report sexual harassment to either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These two agencies work together and share information, so you only need to report to one of them.
The agency will investigate the case and negotiate with your employer for a resolution. If they are unable to do so, they will issue you a letter of right to sue. Once you receive this letter, your next step is to contact an attorney to represent you.
If you are facing sexual harassment at work, you should not suffer in silence. Report any harassment immediately, and contact our office for a consultation if further action needs to be taken.