Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal under employment law, and, if you have encountered it, you need to report it at once to your employer. They are required to take immediate and appropriate action against the person or people harassing you, and they must also ensure that you don’t face any further intimidation in your workplace. If they fail in this or they are also part of the problem, you are entitled to take legal action against your employer. Although it is not essential to have one, consider hiring a sexual harassment in the workplace lawyer to assist you.
Here are some FAQs about sexual harassment in the workplace.
What is sexual harassment in the workplace?
Sexual harassment in the workplace can include the following:
• Discriminating against someone in the workplace because of their gender.
• Making snide comments with sexual overtones.
• Making unwanted and obnoxious sexual advances.
• Intimidating someone into submitting to the sexual advances.
• Being hostile to someone because they rejected sexual advances.
• Creating a toxic work environment with unwanted sexual conduct.
Does sexual harassment have to involve physical contact?
No, sexual harassment in the workplace does not have to involve physical contact. Using obscene words and gestures, sending pornographic images, making sexual jokes, and repeatedly asking for dates can also be construed as sexual harassment. If there is also unwanted touching, assault, or even rape, then the matter shifts from illegal conduct to criminal conduct.
What should I do if I have faced sexual harassment?
It depends on the situation. If there is no question of physical danger, you should directly confront the harasser and make it very clear that you will not tolerate their obnoxious behavior. In many cases, that can nip the problem in the bud. If it does not, and they persist with the harassment, you should write a memo to your direct supervisor and ask them to intervene. You should also read your company’s sexual harassment policy and follow the given procedure in lodging an official complaint. Doing so will make your employer legally liable for the harassment, especially if they fail to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
It will be a good idea to maintain a written record of the harassment, detailing each incident, who witnessed it, when it took place, and where it took place. For evidence, save all the offensive emails, text messages, notes, voicemail, phone calls, and images. You should also keep records of your work performance and any proof of the harasser trying to disrupt that. Furthermore, tell your supervisors, colleagues, co-workers, union representatives, friends, and family about the situation.
What will happen if I report the harassment to my employer?
After you make a written complaint about the harassment to your employer, they are required by law to start an internal investigation on the matter. You will need to give them detailed information about the offensive behavior and furnish any evidence you have gathered to corroborate your complaint. The investigating team will also talk with the harasser and with any witnesses.
If they determine that sexual harassment did indeed take place, your employer will have to take disciplinary action against the harasser. Depending on the severity of the harassment, that can include issuing a warning, assigning them to another team, canceling their promotion, deferring their raise, suspending them from their position, or firing them from the job.
What if my employer retaliates against me for filing the complaint?
As per the employment law, your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for filing the sexual harassment complaint. If they do, they violate the law, and you can take them to court.
What do I have to do if I decide to file a legal complaint?
First, file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate the matter. If they determine that the harassment did occur, they will try to resolve the issue through conciliation and get you an acceptable settlement. If you refuse to settle, they will give you a right to sue letter, and you can then file a Title VII lawsuit against your employer within the stipulated 90 days.