Experiencing sexual harassment at work can be demoralizing and distressing. You should know that addressing the issue can help you reach a resolution.
Knowing the steps to take in the face of workplace harassment allows you to protect your job and your peace of mind.
Document the incidents
The first step is to document any incidents of sexual harassment as soon as they occur. Write down the date, time, location, individuals involved and a detailed description of what happened. Keep this record in a safe and confidential place.
Review your workplace policies
Familiarize yourself with your workplace’s procedures regarding sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. Look for information about the company’s reporting process and any available resources for addressing such incidents.
Raise your concerns
In some cases, it may be appropriate to have a direct conversation with the person responsible for the harassment. Calmly and assertively express your discomfort and request that they stop the behavior. However, only do this if you feel safe and comfortable.
Report the incident
If speaking with the harasser does not resolve the issue or you are uncomfortable doing so, report the incident to your supervisor, manager or human resources (HR) department. Follow your workplace’s reporting procedures to ensure the matter is officially documented.
Schedule a meeting with your HR department to discuss the situation in more detail. Provide all the documentation and information you have gathered. HR professionals have the training to handle such matters with sensitivity and confidentiality.
Reach out to colleagues, friends or family members to share your experience and seek emotional support. Talking about your situation with a trusted confidant can help alleviate the emotional toll of harassment.
Cooperate with investigations
If your company initiates an investigation into the harassment, be cooperative and truthful throughout the process. Provide any additional evidence or information as requested.
If your company’s internal processes do not lead to a satisfactory resolution, you may consider contacting external organizations or government agencies that deal with workplace harassment, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to agency data, the EEOC received more than 5,500 sexual harassment complaints in 2021 alone. Understanding your legal rights can empower you to make informed decisions when you feel unsafe at work.