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What Should I do if I Am the Victim of Sexual Harassment?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Unfortunately, sexual harassment is an ugly part of the workforce, and many people — both men and women — may be sexually harassed. Sexual harassment includes “quid pro quo” offers of sexual favors for promotions, raises, or special favors on the job, unwanted sexual comments, repeated statements of a sexual nature that make a job hard to complete, and unwanted sexual advances, like groping, inappropriate touching, and the like. The first thing you should do if you are a victim of sexual harassment is to inform the harasser that you do not appreciate nor want their conduct to continue. This may be enough to stop someone from harassing you further.

This is not always the case, and most companies have internal methods for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment that continues. Once having informed someone harassing you that you do not welcome their conduct, if inappropriate behavior continues, it’s time to talk to your company’s human resources department, or to a manager not involved in the harassment. If your manager or supervisor is the person perpetuating the harassment, you need to seek someone at a higher level in the company, discuss the problem with human resources, or take your complaint outside the company, if the company offers no recourse or way to resolve the issue.

The trouble with reporting sexual harassment is that many people fear they will lose their jobs if they report it, or they will be viewed as problem employees, resulting in them being fired at a later point. This can occur, and if inappropriate behavior seems to be widespread in a company, it’s better if you’re a US employee to take your complaint outside the company, soon after the behavior occurs. You may be limited as to the time of your report; usually you must file a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the first incident.

Furthermore, if sexual harassment occurred while you were attempting to get a job, you should file an EEOC report immediately. It can be difficult to prove this type of harassment, such as a quid pro quo request, like “Date me (sleep with me) and the job is yours.” This is often an environment of “he said, she said,” and each case is weighed on its own merits. What may help is if other people have filed similar complaints against a company. A lot of EEOC reports about an employer or company can suggest a pattern of behavior that can help prove sexual harassment.

Some incidents should be reported immediately, first through your company if possible, and also concurrently at your local EEOC office. Inappropriate groping, touching, or attempts to solicit sexual favors do not benefit from waiting. They should be reported at once. Moreover, some sexual harassment is not just harassment but rape or assault. If you are forced to have sex or someone physically attempts to force you to have sex, this is not only harassment but also rape or attempted rape, and your report should not be to the company, but to the local police department. If possible, you should report this immediately after the incident has occurred.

When sexual harassment is less blatant, it can help to establish a pattern of behavior, noting it to other people who also experience it or who overhear it. For instance, if a person constantly makes off-color remarks about your physical appearance or continually uses sexual statements or tells sexual jokes in your presence, this may constitute a pattern. After you have informed the person that such remarks are unwelcome and you would like them to stop, repeated remarks of a similar nature (which you should note down) do become a form of harassment, constituting a hostile workplace environment. Again, if your company has a plan in place for dealing with this matter, you may want to pursue the matter first through company channels. If the company is small, ignores your complaints or doesn’t have a plan, reporting the behavior to the EEOC is probably the best method for ending harassment.

Note that if you feel physically threatened by a fellow worker on employee, you should probably stop attending work. Make certain that you make a report to the police department and the EEOC immediately. This can help you make a strong legal case for having to quit under hostile conditions, and also to get protection, if needed, from law enforcement from anyone at your workplace who may potentially put you in physical danger.

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Suzie Dsouza
Post 1

Hit them on their face, and shout for help. do not worry, this works.

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