Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcome sexual advance or conduct in the workplace that creates a hostile, intimidating and offensive work environment. This can range from repeat offensive jokes full of sexual content to an outright sexual assault.
Fortunately, there are state and federal laws that protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Here are two steps that you need to take to protect yourself if you are being sexually harassed in the workplace.
Ask the offender to stop
Start off by informing the harasser of your displeasure with their actions and ask them to stop.
This is important because it puts the harasser on notice that their behavior is unwelcome. This is a requirement if the conduct is to meet the legal definition of sexual harassment. This is also an important first step if you later decide to take legal action against the offender. Be absolutely clear about your feelings, but don’t respond to attempts to provoke you.
Report the harassment to your employer
If the harassment continues even after talking to the offender, you need to escalate the matter.
Refer to your organization’s personnel policies or employee handbook. If the organization has a sexual harassment complaint policy, be sure to follow the instructions. If you cannot find this policy, ask your supervisor or human resources department how to make a formal sexual harassment complaint against the offending party. Be sure to document everything along the way.
These steps are part of the process you need to take to protect your rights to a safe, harassment-free workplace.