Whether your work is just a job or a vocation, it should never be a place where you feel threatened or diminished by sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, and both national and state laws are specifically designed to prevent it from happening and to provide protections against it. Facing unwelcome verbal or physical harassment affects your ability to do your job and can affect your wellbeing in many ways, so it’s important that you know what to do in response.
Sexual harassment can take the form of a quid pro quo — where offers or withholds some benefit in exchange for sexual favors – or it can be the existence of a hostile work environment. Where a quid pro quo may be demanding a sexual favor in exchange for being hired or promoted, being given a better work shift or assignment, a hostile work environment doesn’t set a condition – instead, it creates an atmosphere that is abusive or intimidating, such as being told jokes or stories of a sexual nature, being subjected to comments about your body, being stared at, unwanted touching, or even rape and sexual assault.
Standing up for yourself in the face of sexual harassment is intimidating, but as more victims come forward it’s become easier to do. Here are a few suggestions that will help you stop the harassment from happening.
- Document what is happening, as it is happening. Whether you decide to go to your company or take legal action, keep a record of each incident, when and where it happened and who else was present and witnessed it. Be specific about dates, comments and behaviors. The more detail you can offer, the stronger your claim will be.
- Make clear t the harasser that you do not welcome their comments or overtures, whether they are overt or subtle. Whether you tell the person that you do not want to have sex with them or date them or simply that the comments that they are making are inappropriate and make you feel uncomfortable, it will be helpful if you can point to a specific time and date where you made clear that their behavior was not welcome.
- Report the harassment to your employer, following their internal process.
If you are unable to get satisfaction from your employer – or worse, if you feel that your complaint has resulted in some form of retaliation – you need help from an experienced attorney. Contact our office today to discuss your situation.