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A Guide to Workplace Sexual Harassment

Updated on April 5, 2022
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Justine has dealt with her fair share of Workplace Harassment while navigating through different careers in her life.

Managing Sexual Harassment

Workplace Sexual Harassment is a serious issue for both sides. The employer and employee can both be put in very uncomfortable positions. Sometimes, you may even feel that no one can help you. Workplace Harassment can be torture to a person, causing extensive emotional damages as well as damage to your character. According to (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Sexual Harassment can come in many forms. Women often ignore the harassment when it is happening because of the embarrassment of coming forward, more than ever because jobs seem to be harder to come by. I can tell you first hand some tips that helped me to overcome sexual harassment in the workplace.

Beginning Steps

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up. If and when you first start feeling you are on the verge of being harassed in the workplace, some may be afraid to speak up.
  • Do not panic.
  • Don’t let others shame you. In the past I was told by my superior that if you don't ask a person to stop the behavior than you are just as likely to be at fault for the behavior even if you did not welcome it. This mentality unfortunately is followed often and is part of victim blaming in our society and it needs to stop. No one should ever shame you or make you feel like it's your fault.
  • Be your own advocate. Look up resources, find allies or friends you can trust.
  • Start keeping a log of things that are bothering you including dates and times of bothersome behavior or possibly any witnesses.

Approaching Your Superior

When you are ready to approach your supervisor just remember to stay calm and they should be more than willing to step forward and ask the behavior to stop if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Do not confront the person who is doing the bad behavior. Confronting someone like this can put you in a risky situation and its better to let your supervisor be aware of the situation instead of trying to take matters into your own hands. If the supervisor does not handle it in a fair timely manner, with your personal interest in mind, find another supervisor to talk to. If the behavior and comments in the workplace start to come up again or if you feel any retaliation is happening its important to have open lines of communication with your superior or Human Resources. You always want to follow the chain of command and try to stay away from office gossip.

Educate Yourself

Educate yourself on the matter. Ask you supervisor for their "code of conduct" when it comes to sexual harassment. You may find some things there that will be helpful. Ask to speak with Human Resources or a trusted supervisor. Often an employee may fear for their job, and losing a way to provide for their family. This can make the situation very stressful especially if the bully is your boss or someone higher up than you.

After telling your supervisor, something should be done immediately! Usually, an intervention takes place where the bully is confronted about the allegations. If you are worried about retaliation, don‘t be. This will only make your point stronger if the bully retaliated against you for bringing the matter to the attention of your supervisor. If you feel that your supervisor is not handling the situation correctly than find who is above that supervisor and report it to them. Please see the links below for more resources that may help you and give you enough confidence to speak out.

What if the Behavior Doesn't Stop?

If the harassment still continues, remember to keep a log containing important events and comments this person has made towards you. This log is very important in case you ever need to bring charges to the person or if you need to seek legal aid.

Most departments have a whole team of employees to help take care of the situation. If needed, you may have to ask for emotional help such as counseling, or talking to a fellow employee. In most cases the Human Resources department is a good place to go for help. If everything else fails, and you feel that there is nothing to be done about the situation, or if you are fearful this person may hurt you or your family, you may need to press criminal charges. A restraining order will temporarily help you, because your workplace has to comply with the law.

If you still feel you are not being helped. or if you feel that they are trying to "sweep something under the rug", contact your local Civil Rights Commission. Every state has the Civil Rights Commission to help you in cases just like these. The Civil Rights Commission will have a "private investigator" take on your case. They will try to find out the facts and supeona any information pertaining to the case. They want to make sure this is not happening to other people, and that it will not happen again. The Civil Rights Commission will help you if no one else will. The best part of it all.....they do it for free. They will send you a letter telling you that you may or may not have the right to take legal action.

Thank you for reading. I hope this will help someone in need.


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