What to do About Sexual Harassment at Work
As working citizens, we often lead stressful lifestyles trying to balance work, home and social obligations. Day-to-day work can be difficult for many people, especially if you must work closely with other individuals since a workplace can house a variety of different cultures, mindsets and social dynamics. On top of this, and unfortunately, workplace sexual harassment is another issue that many employees encounter at their place of work. Workplace sexual harassment can not only be demeaning, it can also prove to be a very detrimental emotional struggle to maintain your ability to succeed or even function at your best in your workplace. If you or someone you know has dealt with or is currently dealing with sexual harassment at work, this can quickly lead to permanent, psychological and emotional damage. These grievances can not only leave you with emotional pain, but they can also lead to financial difficulties if left unable to work. If you have been victimized at work due to sexual harassment, there may be an opportunity to recover compensation for the damages you received. Seeking the support of an experienced and qualified attorney can help your case.
If you have decided to pursue a workplace sexual harassment, there are several important factors that need to be adhered to as well as specific requirements to follow. Understanding the elements behind these factors can help to ensure that you have the best opportunity at being successful in your case.
Different Forms of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
There are various procedures to follow in regard to sexual harassment at work. The procedures vary at times, depending on the nature of the event. Overall, however, all occurrences should never be tolerated and thus be reported immediately.
Dating in the Workplace
You as an employee are entitled to maintain a private life independent from your workplace. In the event that you are dating a coworker, this does not mean that other employees have the freedom to harass you. While most employers do have no dating policies for this specific reason as well as to try and mitigate any tension between workers should a relationship not work out, employees don’t always follow these rules. If you face misconduct in the workplace, which leads to making you feel uncomfortable or that you feel is sexual harassment, be sure to object to the harassment and take any steps to report or document the incidents. Make sure to verify if your company or workplace has a policy on sexual harassment and follow the proper channels. Follow the protocol as precisely as you can. Policies on workplace harassment are usually found on Employee Handbooks or on company intranet websites. With the widespread of such claims, many companies are offering training to help avoid claims and keep their employees free of sexual harassment. Despite this, there is still potential for employees to fall victim of sexual harassment at work.
Harassment Caused by a Colleague
In the event that you are a victim of sexual harassment by a supervisor or even another coworker, you should report the misconduct to the Human Resources Department at your workplace or report in accordance with the company guidelines. Not all companies have a Human Resources Department, however. If your workplace does not have this department available, speak to your supervisor. Once you have brought the event(s) to the supervisor’s attention, obtain a written record of what transpired. Written documentation of what you say and what was said in response can be very beneficial when seeking restitution for your grievances. If possible, give a copy of these statements to your supervisor and keep one for yourself. If it is your supervisor who is the one responsible for the harassment, looking to report to their supervisor or someone else with the authority to take action may be required.
When to Seek Help Outside the Workplace
Unfortunately, there are cases that require more than filing a complaint at the company’s Human Resources Department. There are cases that involve severe verbal and even physical assault. If you are victim to these types of cases, it is important that you file a complaint to your local police department and even the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Doing so will protect your right to work in a place free from persecution and or sexual harassment. This may also be required if you have done proper reporting of harassment through the traditional channels and no change has occurred or the harassment continues.
Once you have filed a complaint to your supervisor or employer, he or she is legally required to investigate your claim. He or she is also obligated to attempt to resolve the matter in a reasonable form. You should know that the perpetrator will not always be fired once you have decided to make a complaint about him or her. His or her employment status can depend on several factors which include the seriousness of the situation and if whether this was his or her first offence. There may also be limitations on action from employers with the harassment cannot be proved, or other workplace nuances are at play. If the perpetrator has not refrained from harassing you following the report and possible reprimand, notify your supervisor immediately.
Failing to Report the Harassment
If you have been sexually harassed at work by a coworker or a supervisor and you failed to report it, this can ultimately cause you to be unsuccessful in your claim and your right to compensation. In the event that your employer has failed to resolve the matter or failed at even attempting to do so, it is your right to file a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has more information about filing a sexual harassment case.
Once you have filed a Sexual Harassment Complaint
Following your complaint of sexual harassment, it is not uncommon to see a defense from your supervisor or employer. He or she can deny having any knowledge about the incident(s) and possibly deny that a sexual harassment event ever occurred. It is also common that in the event that he or she recognizes the event, the supervisor can claim that you gave your consent to the action(s). The perpetrator and supervisor can also claim that the incident was not as severe or important as you claim it was. Employers can often go through their internal channels and procedures to report your claim, but once a formal claim from a governmental agency is initiated, they may be less willing to assist or cooperate. If you foresee that this will be your experience, keeping details of the events and any complaints made is crucial to your case. Even keeping a record of the time and place where each event happened can benefit you. While it may be hard to re-count the events while the harassment was so new, it is important to preserve details as they can make a difference in your case/claim later when details are less accessible in your memory.
Seeking Support in the Event that You Were Victimized
If you have been a victim due to sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important that you seek support from an attorney who understands your rights and will fight to protect them. Being a victim will not only put a strain on your daily work duties, thus causing severe stress, it can also lead to long-lasting emotional pain and distress. A professional attorney who works with sexual harassment and workplace harassment can help you through the process of filing a claim, make sure important time requirements are met as well as deal with the involved parties and their attorneys. While the sexual harassment may be a shock and a paralyzing event, sexual harassment attorneys understand the particulars of these types of cases and can make sure your rights are protected under Federal and State law.