Many people face the common problem of sexual harassment and similar unwanted behavior at work. The issue is serious, but society didn’t always treat it with the weight that it deserves. The culture of silence and inaction around workplace harassment has slowly lifted, most notably with the recent MeToo movement for women’s rights in the office and beyond. Even though progress has been made, too many instances of harassment still occur. Here is how to deal with the situation if a boss or coworker is harassing you.
Know Your Rights
It's important to recognize that no one deserves to be harassed at work. Not only is it wrong, but harassment is illegal. Most perpetrators and all human resources staff are aware that their behavior is unacceptable, so don’t be afraid to assert yourself. Good companies foster a supportive environment for women and others who feel threatened or unsafe at work. The most important tip for preventing harassment in the workplace is to be your loudest advocate. If someone is harassing you at work, always remember that you are in the right when pursuing justice.
Report the Harassment
Notify your supervisor of human resources as soon as possible. Stopping the abusive behavior before it becomes a pattern can help prevent further abuse and strengthen your case against the perpetrator. Companies have become keenly aware in recent years that sexual harassment is a serious issue that can cost a company big money if they fail to act properly when a woman reports abuse.
File a Complaint
Unfortunately, power dynamics or favoritism within a company sometimes lead to poor outcomes for people who have the courage to file complaints against harassment within the company. This can sometimes include retaliation, in which the harassed employee is unfairly disciplined for bringing the complaint, but the perpetrator experiences no consequences. You can go outside of the company and file your issue with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. In fact, retaliation was the most common claim filed with the EEOC in 2018. The EEOC is an organization that protects people who have experienced harassment by providing oversight of the processes that companies use to process sexual harassment complaints.
If you have experienced harassment in the workplace, don’t let yourself be further victimized by management that is indifferent to your case. Asserting your rights and demanding action is the best way to come back from harassment.
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