Workplace Sexual Harassment

I think I’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work, but What Do I Do?

Some people may define sexual harassment as the act of someone blatantly requesting sexual favors, or even outright sexual assault. But, sexual harassment is more than just that. Sexual intimidation, lewd jokes, and work pornography can also be considered sexual harassment and do not have to be tolerated.

Identifying Sexual Harassment

  • Sexual Gestures – blowing a kiss, winking, acting out sexual activity, etc.

  • Sexual remarks – inappropriate jokes or comments, derogatory statements, etc.

  • Explicit questions – asking for inappropriate favors, asking private or uncomfortable sexual questions, etc.

  • Unwelcomed actions – giving gifts, hugging, flirtatious attention, kissing, touching, etc.

  • Sexual emails or notes – graphic photos, pornography, letters, etc.

  • Sexual objects – magazines, books, adult toys, lingerie, lipstick, etc.

  • Retaliation towards rejection of unwanted advances – not allowing for promotion based on refusal for a date, assigning unfair work responsibilities, harassing you to quit, etc.

Sexual Harassment Can Happen to Anyone

It’s important to remember that sexual harassment is not gender exclusive, both men and women can experience sexual harassment – and it doesn’t have to be the opposite sex against the other to qualify. Same-sex sexual harassment is just as wrong. 

Workplace Harassment Doesn’t Have to Occur at Work

Often sexual harassment occurs in environments where the harasser feels more comfortable to act out, or in circumstances that seem as though he/she will not be caught. Workplace sexual harassment can take place outside of work too, including:

  • Off-site office party

  • Text message

  • Email

  • Business trip

  • Social media

  • Client’s place of business

  • Off-site work environments

  • At lunch

Knowing how to identify sexual harassment is the first step towards educating yourself – but what happens if you experience sexual harassment at work? The #MeToo movement has encouraged people to speak out about their own experiences, but it doesn’t answer the questions of how to go about reporting harassment. It’s important to be sure that you remain protected if you ever experience such unfortunate circumstances.

In some cases, people cannot afford to risk their job in the event of the information being reported and getting in the wrong hands. This can cause hesitation toward speaking out. However, there is a way to report sexual harassment and still keep yourself and your job safe. There are laws in place to help you exercise your rights.

What to Do About Workplace Sexual Harassment

  1. Inform the harasser that the advances are unwelcome.

  2. Take detailed notes of the incident(s) and save any evidence (emails, text messages, etc.) for your records. In some cases, it comes down to your word against there’s. Having the event(s) documented will help you to recall all instances accurately.

  3. Review the company’s sexual harassment policy which can be found in your employee handbook. Follow the procedure put in place. Typically, the policy will encourage employees to report the incident to their supervisor or Human Resources department.

  4. If your employer fails to act to protect your interests, contact an attorney to help you navigate through the legal process that may start with filing a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is important to have credible and experienced representation in sensitive cases such as sexual harassment, so be sure to do your research on the lawyer’s past cases.

We Stand with You

Fear can prevent people from reporting sexual harassment, but it’s important to do so to make sure it doesn’t happen to you or anyone else again. It requires a lot of bravery to speak out, that is why we are here to help guide you through it. At the Mazaheri Law Firm, we have informed, compassionate attorneys that specialize in employment law that can assist you on how to go about protecting yourself. Schedule a consultation now at (405) 645-6022.