How To Handle Workplace Sexual Harassment

Did you experience sexual harassment while at work? Here are some of the steps that you should take:

Know what sexual harassment means. First of all, it’s important that you know what actions go under the term sexual harassment. In general terms, it refers to an incident of sexual nature that you experienced from your colleague or supervisor. It could be a subtle but uncomfortable incident, such as your boss asking you if “you got laid over the weekend,” or it could be something physical such as your supervisor patting you on your behind. It could also be in the form of an indecent proposal, such as your boss suggesting that you date them so that you could get promoted.

Give a warning to the person concerned. If a coworker starts harassing you such as by calling you sexually-suggestive names or wolf whistles whenever you pass by his cubicle, take a moment to look at him and warn him that you could report him for sexual harassment if he persists with his actions. This is the best way to deal with the situation upfront.

If the harassment is more serious in nature, you could go right away and report the incident (see number 3). 

Document the occurrence. Whether or not you are sure of an incident to be an act of sexual discrimination, you should take the time to write down the pertinent details. Note down the date, the time, the witnesses (if there are any), and a description of the incident. Try to describe the incident as accurately as you can: for example, where did your boss touch you, precisely? How long did his hand stay there? And if it was verbal, try to record what he said word for word. 

Know who to talk to. After you’ve documented the incident, the first person you talk to should be a personnel in the human resources department of your office. If your office doesn’t have such department, go to your supervisor to report the incident; or if your supervisor is the one who harassed you, talk to his boss. Present your documentations and have a witness, if there is one.

Make sure that you obtain a clear plan of action from the management. How will they deal with the situation? Will they reprimand your co-worker? How will they ensure that he wouldn’t do it again? Be proactive and make sure that something will come out of your meeting. Go up the management ladder if necessary.

Know that 97% of companies have a sexual harassment policy; inquire about this from your HR department.

Know what to do if the sexual harassment persists. If you feel that management can’t seem to contain the situation, first tell them that you might be forced to hire a lawyer. You should also warn them that you could sue the company for not taking action for your sexual harassment complaints.

There you have it! These are the steps for handling workplace sexual harassment. Remember, you shouldn’t have to stand by and endure the situation: do something about it! It’s time to let your victimizer (because that’s what he is, really) know that what he is doing is unacceptable and he would never get away with it. Good luck, and hope this helped!


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