What To Do if You Are Sexually Harassed at Work
By Corey Hanrahan
What to do if you are sexually harassed at work? Navigating a situation where you are sexually harassed at work can be overwhelming and challenging. It’s important to understand your rights and feel empowered to take the appropriate actions. This guide provides steps you can take if you find yourself in this difficult situation.
Recognize the Harassment
Sexual harassment can take many forms, from explicit advances and requests for sexual favors to subtle comments and actions that create a hostile work environment. It is crucial to recognize when you are being harassed, which means understanding what behavior constitutes sexual harassment. I always tell people that they need to trust their instincts, and if something feels wrong or inappropriate, it probably is. The key is to identify the behavior early and not dismiss it or feel like you’re overreacting.
“…After reporting the harassment, follow up with the appropriate parties to ensure that your report is being handled correctly. This step can involve checking in with your employer’s human resources department, your manager, or the person responsible for investigating your complaint....“
Report the Harassment
Once you’ve recognized the behavior as harassment, the next step is to report it. Many organizations have a designated person or department to handle harassment complaints. If not, human resources is a good place to start. Your report can protect you and others from further harassment, and it can also help prevent such behavior in the future. Be prepared to document the incident or incidents in as much detail as possible before making a report. This includes specific dates, times, descriptions of the behavior, and the names of witnesses who were around.
Dealing with sexual harassment at work can be emotionally draining. Do not hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or even a counselor, if necessary. It is important to surround yourself with people who can offer a supportive and non-judgmental ear. You should not have to go through this experience alone.
Know Your Legal Rights
As a victim of sexual harassment, you have legal rights that protect you from further harassment, and from retaliation. Familiarize yourself with the harassment policies at your workplace and know the laws and regulations that apply to your situation. Legal options may include filing a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) or seeking advice from a lawyer who has experience in workplace harassment cases.
Take Care of Yourself
Your physical and mental well-being should always be a priority. Practice self-care, maintain a healthy routine, and engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief. If you find yourself struggling with the situation, do not hesitate to consult professional help. Remember, taking care of yourself is an essential part of addressing the harassment you’ve experienced.
Follow Up on the Report
After reporting the harassment, follow up with the appropriate parties to ensure that your report is being handled correctly. This step can involve checking in with your employer’s human resources department, your manager, or the person responsible for investigating your complaint. Don’t be afraid to be assertive in asking for updates and resolution of the situation. Oftentimes it is best to follow up in writing (usually by email) to be able to establish that those communications took place.
Pursue Legal Action
If the harassment is not addressed effectively within your organization, or if you experience any form of retaliation, legal action may be necessary. Consult with a lawyer or legal advisor who can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit or seeking legal remedies for the harassment and its consequences. Here at The Hanrahan Firm, we have years of experience representing sexual harassment survivors. We always offer free consultations. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.