Recent studies found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men have experienced sexual harassment. Most victims don’t report their incidents. The process and culture that surrounds the issue make them feel powerless.
You might’ve heard that there is nothing you can do. That’s far from the truth. The legal system provides tools to take action.
Not sure how to deal with sexual harassment? The first step is educating yourself about your options. We’ll discuss what to do if you are sexually harassed at work so you can take charge of the situation.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Some people think sexual harassment only refers to conduct such as attempted rape or sexual assault. Yet, that behavior is some of the conduct that falls under this type of harassment. Sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. This includes things such as a request for sexual favors, sexual advances, or other conduct of a physical or verbal nature.
There are two main types of sexual harassment behavior in the workplace. Quid Pro Quo is when an employee requires another employee to submit to offensive behavior as a condition to keep their job.
The second type of sexual harassment is Hostile Work Environment. It refers to verbal, physical or visual misconduct that interferes with the employee’s work performance.
How to Deal with Sexual Harassment: Taking Charge
Sexual harassment cases are sensitive and complex to navigate. But, it becomes easier when you know what to do if you are being sexually harassed at work.
Here are the steps you should take if you’re a victim of sexual harassment:
1. Let the Harasser Know About Their Misconduct
Before filing a claim, it’s important to inform the offender of their unwelcomed behavior. Many times informing them stops their misconduct. Also, it’s a way to place the harasser on notice regarding their offensive conduct.
2. Ask About Your Employer’s Procedure for Sexual Harassment Claims
Many employers have an internal process for sexual harassment claims. You might find it in the employee handbook.
If not, your employer’s Human Resources Department should be able to provide insight into the process. You should report the behavior to your supervisor if your employer doesn’t have a procedure for these claims.
3. Follow Your Employer’s Process for Reporting the Incident
After learning about your Employer’s process, you should report your incident. You must follow the internal process to the letter.
If you don’t, you risk losing your claim. It’s important to keep a record of every communication regarding your claim. You need this evidence for additional claims you file in the future.
4. Consider Filing an Administrative Charge
If your claim isn’t resolved following your employer’s procedure, you may file an administrative charge with the appropriate government agency. Most of the time, you’ll file your charge with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s enforcement agency.
5. Litigate Your Case
You can file a lawsuit if you receive a “right to sue” letter from the federal or state agency regarding your administrative charge. A lawyer can help you navigate your civil lawsuit to get the best outcome.
Not all sexual harassment claims will follow all the steps we discussed. But, knowing how to deal with sexual harassment is the first step. It’s recommended you consult an attorney to obtain the best outcome in your claim.
Have you been a victim of sexual harassment? Need to consult an attorney? We can help.
Contact us today for your free case evaluation.