Welcome to the working world! You just graduated school and have become a full-time young professional. You are now a part of the office family and the 9 – 5 grinds. But, you are also faced with a big ongoing issue which is workplace sexual harassment. The EEOC had received about 28,000 sexual harassment related charges in 2015. This growing issue has gained much attention in the past years, and many workplaces have been putting efforts into reducing the number of sexual harassments counts and complaints with education, policies and laying down strict consequences.
What Exactly is Sexual Harassment?
Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, an Orange County sexual harassment law firm, who is experienced in abuse and harassment law, says that sexual harassment is different from abuse. Both are inappropriate and can cause emotional distress. With sexual harassment, this can include lewd acts or remarks implying or invoking for sex. Acts of harassment can include inappropriate contact, sexual comments, bargaining for sex and spreading rumors. Just like sex abuse, harassment is seen as a crime.
Preventing Sexual Harassment
The companies you work for are responsible for enforcing and abiding workplace policies that help stop behaviors related to harassment and discrimination. But, as an employee, you can help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace too. Here are a few easy, but effective ways you can stop harassment.
Understand Anyone Can Be Harassed
In order to prevent sexual harassment or stop it from continuing, all workers should know that sexual harassment is an offense that can happen to all genders. Men, women and transgender employees can be the victim of harassment and discrimination in the work place.
First Step is to Object
When sexual harassment occurs or is noticed for the first time, the first step is to approach and tell the harasser to simply, but clearly, stop and let them know that their actions are inappropriate and uncomfortable. There is a chance that this is enough to stop any further harassment from occurring. Unfortunate, most of the time this is not enough. The next step would be to report it either with a complaint or by telling a higher up, depending on your work place's policy.
Check Work Policies
Employees can ask their managers, bosses or HR representatives about what their policies are on workplace harassment. When looking through your employee book or manual, you could check to see that everything in their policy against workplace harassment is clear and concise. If this isn't the case, then don't be afraid to bring it up with a supervisor or your boss. Enforced policies are what helps protect employees from bad behavior and it's what makes the work environment a safe place.
What if Your Boss is Harassing You?
What if the one person you report to or ask for help is the one harassing you? It puts you in a very difficult position. When going to your boss or HR is no use, the best thing to do in this situation seek help from the law. Before you decide to take it to the courts or get legal help, you might want to start looking for a job someplace else where. The important thing to do is to step away from an unsafe environment, even if you did take legal action.