If you’re experiencing sexual harassment at work, these five steps can help you deal with it – and put a stop to the behavior.
Let us be clear: It’s not your responsibility as the victim to stop the behavior. It’s the offending party’s responsibility. However, following these steps can stop the harassment and improve your work environment – not just for you, but for everyone else involved.
5 Steps to Take to Deal With Sexual Harassment at Work
The steps you can take to deal with sexual harassment at work are:
- Determine whether it’s sexual harassment under California or federal law.
- Tell the harasser that he or she needs to stop, or let a coworker, supervisor or the HR department do it for you.
- Follow your company’s procedures for filing an official complaint.
- Write everything down in a letter, and include details.
- Call a Glendale sexual harassment lawyer.
Related: Can you file a hostile work environment lawsuit?
Step 1: Determine whether it’s sexual harassment under California or federal law.
In general, in order for something to qualify as sexual harassment:
- The victim must be offended and the harassment must be unwelcome. If your boss says to you, “You’ll have to sleep with me or I’ll fire you,” that’s a pretty clear-cut case. But what if he or she says it to someone else? The person on the receiving end of the harassment doesn’t have to be offended – if you overhear or see the harassment happening to someone else, you might be the victim.
- The comment or action must be offensive to a reasonable person. If a coworker says, “You look great in that dress,” you’re probably not looking at sexual harassment – you’re looking at a compliment, and although it may be unwelcome, it probably doesn’t meet the criteria for sexual harassment. However, if the coworker says, “You look great in that dress, but you probably look better without it,” that’s a different story.
- The comments or action needs to be pervasive or serious. When your coworkers are sharing pornography regularly and publicly, or if your boss tells you that you’ll have to sleep with him or her to keep your job, those are instances of pervasive and serious conduct.
Related: 5 signs that someone is sexually harassing you
Step 2: Tell the harasser that he or she needs to stop, or let a coworker, supervisor or the HR department do it for you.
Sometimes you can speak up on the spot. It’s okay to say, “Hey, that’s inappropriate and I don’t like it.” And in many cases, the person who’s doing it will stop – often, people don’t realize they’re being offensive.
But it’s not always that easy. Maybe you’re intimidated or worried that your boss will fire you, or you have another reason for not speaking up. In cases like that, let a coworker, your supervisor or your company’s HR department know what happened and ask them to help you.
Step 3: Follow your company’s procedures for filing an official complaint.
Your company most likely has specific procedures for reporting sexual harassment and filing a complaint. Follow those procedures to the letter. Typically, you’ll find them in the employee handbook or on your company’s website; if not, ask your supervisor (or a supervisor you trust) or a coworker to help you figure out the right process.
In many cases, the guidelines for reporting sexual harassment at work involve letting a direct supervisor know (or another supervisor, if your own supervisor is also involved).
Step 4: Write everything down in a letter, and include details.
Put your complaint in writing and keep copies. You can email the document to ensure that there’s a time and date stamp on it, too. Title your letter or email “Formal complaint of sexual harassment.”
- A timeline with names, dates and actions documented
- Witnesses who were present
- Quotes (or summaries) of what people said or what actions those people took
- Whether the behavior is continuing
- A list of the concerns you have, such as losing your job if you report directly to your boss
File your complaint as soon as possible after the incident.
Step 5: Call a Glendale sexual harassment lawyer.
If your employer doesn’t take adequate steps to address the problem – or if your employer won’t even investigate the situation – you’ll probably want to call a Glendale sexual harassment lawyer. Your attorney will go over what you’ve done to deal with the sexual harassment at work and ask you questions about the incidents you’ve experienced.
Related: The 5 stages of a sexual harassment complaint
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Sexual Harassment at Work?
If you feel that you’re dealing with sexual harassment at work and your employer hasn’t fixed the situation, call us right away at 818-918-3876 for a free consultation with a sexual harassment attorney. You can also fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.