10 Ways to deal with Sexual Harassment at Work

Does your co-worker keep a picture of their spouse on the desk, but calls you ‘honey’ and unnecessarily keeps their arm around your shoulder? Shove aside these creepers! Well, I purposely chose the pronoun ‘their’ over ‘his’ because men too are victims of sexual harassment but it largely remains a hushed topic. No matter what, nobody has the right to offend you sexually, be it verbal or physical. The first step is knowing what counts as sexual harassment and then come the ways to deal with it. Sexual harassment is any type of discrimination based on sex, any unwelcome sexual advances, inappropriate touching and offensive sexual jokes. If you or any of your co-worker is dealing with this, don’t put a sock in it! Speak up for yourself, because if you won’t then who will? Use this guide as I tell you the top 10 ways to deal with sexual harassment at work.

10. Know your sexual harassment policy:

You should know what your company’s policies are. And if you don’t know it yet, better get familiar. Many people do not know that it doesn’t always have to be ‘sexual’ to come under sexual harassment. In fact, that is just one type of harrying. If you’re being harassed on being male or female, i.e. on the basis of your sex, that counts too! Check the employee handbook, written policies, union contract, anywhere you think you might get your hands on the sexual harassment policy of your employee. Every company has a policy for prevention of such harassments and if you need to get things done and dusted, get yourself a copy. If you are unable to find it in the office, search the internet, it should be available as a pdf file. Follow the steps that it says. Report it to the person in charge. If they don’t fix it, go to the next person.

09. Draw a line:

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While little flirting or joking around can be tolerated, ‘harassment’ cannot and should not be. Draw a clear hard line, communicate your disapproval! It doesn’t have to be churlish, just let them you know that you take a dim view of it. Just a little ‘Hey, that wasn’t funny!’ or ‘this makes me uncomfortable’ should be enough to forewarn a person. If you do this in front of your colleagues, even better! No one wants to look sheepish in full public view. Most people would stop right there, because they know you are not a silent sufferer and this in itself is a huge deal!

08. Don’t simply quit!

Many employees quit as soon as they encounter such incidents. While it is understandable that you might be scared to go back or you feel like it’s not worth it, it is definitely not the best solution. Many a times, the sole reason behind harassments is ‘to get him/her out of the way’. Be confident, fight for what is right and rise above these jerks. Quitting should be your last resort but if things are really going out of your hand, your security and peace of mind are always the first priority.

07. Talk to other victims:

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If your boss or co-worker harasses you, possibility is you’re not the only one. Talk about it among your colleagues. Search for other victims of sexual harassment by the same person. There might be complaints lodged against them previously by another victim, take their help, work as a team! Secure the testimony of the victim or even a witness in writing to help your claim. The more proof you have against them, the stronger it makes your stance.

06. Keep a record:

If your harasser isn’t catching the signals, start keeping a record and prepare to report him. Gather as much evidence as you can to substantiate your claims. If they send you offensive mails or messages, save them and text them back with your disapproval. Keep a copy of everything because you might not be able to sue the person for a single incident. You can even try to make videos or record your conversation on the phone to make a stronger case against them. Share your situation with a friend at the office, they might be able to keep an eye on his moves and act as a witness when needed.

05. Inform your boss:

Report all the incidents to your immediate supervisor. Write a formal letter mentioning every event that took place, add witnesses if any. Ask your supervisor for a meeting with the person. But what if your boss is the harasser? Read on!

04. Contact human resource manager:

In 2/3rd of the cases, the harasser is a supervisor at work. Now what? Don’t fret over it! All supervisors and managers, however, have a responsibility to act on reports of sexual harassment by reporting them to the human resources staff person with the responsibility of investigating employee complaints. Or directly go to your human resource manager, he should know what to do. The human resource manager should possess expert knowledge in handling such cases. If the company does not have a dedicated HR manager, contact a high ranking person within the company who takes such cases under them.

03. Keep reporting:

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Even if the HR manager doesn’t take any necessary action right away, know that it is his duty to create a safe workspace. Keep reporting against your harasser repeatedly. If nothing works, seek advice from a local attorney.

02. A company is very crucial to its image, use it in your favour!

The employer of your company will have to impartial for the sake of company’s image. If you complain about it, you can easily defame your employer, something they take very seriously. No company wants to slander someone who hasn’t done anything wrong. So, as far as partiality is concerned, your officials are very less likely to do it. Use this one rather carefully, make sure it doesn’t backfire on you. This is why you must be strong on evidence.

01. Consult an employment attorney:

If your company is not taking any serious action against it or if you’re not satisfied by the result of your company’s investigation, talk to an employment attorney about your case. In fact, some people suggest consulting an experienced lawyer even before reporting the incident to your boss or HR. Most people go their HR for filing a complaint while doing the same with your attorney can be more powerful and faster.

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Don’t be a quite mouse. Be confident and be prepared! The person you have accused might still work with you after you lodge the complaint against them as they might get a warning letter or a temporary transfer. Don’t be discouraged. Remember, you have the right to work in a healthy environment and you must fight for it. Keep up the good work. More power to you!

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