There is a fairly good chance that you have heard of a coworker, friend, family member, or a stranger on the news that has dealt with sexual harassment at work. It may have been a sexist comment or their boss giving them an inappropriate back rub. Sexual harassment is, unfortunately, something that many women have to deal with in the workplace. While no one wants to think they will ever experience this at their job, it is important to know what to do if it were to happen. Here are a few things you should know about sexual harassment at work:
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Many people believe sexual harassment is limited to only sexual behaviors. Sexual harassment is any inappropriate sexual comments or advances, but it is also any discriminatory action based specifically on gender. If you have been given different work, different shifts, or were not given promotions or opportunities because you are a female, this is considered sexual harassment.
A Potential Lawsuit Could be Cancelled if You Quit
You may think the best option would be to leave your job if you have been experiencing sexual harassment. However, if you do not work at the company anymore, you will not be able to file a sexual harassment claim on their policy. By not having a claim, you could be unable to have a lawsuit. If you feel the best option is for you to quit, you should file the claim and comply with the investigation prior to doing so.
Know Your Company’s Policies
Your company should have a set policy that outlines exactly what the employee should do if they need to file a sexual harassment claim. The policies and procedures should be easily available to you. This should explain who to report to, what you need to provide, and what to do if the next appropriate steps are not followed. It is important that you follow their policy exactly.
Your Company Will Need to Look Into Your Claim
Your employer has a responsibility to investigate your claim if you submit one. This could mean that your entire office will need to be involved in the process. It also means that your harasser will most likely know that you have reported them, even if the company says the investigation will remain anonymous.
Your Harasser Probably Won’t Be Fired
Your harasser most likely will not be fired simply because you filed a sexual harassment claim about them, unless the harassment was extremely serious or took place for a long time. Even though they will most likely still be employed, it is your company’s responsibility to make sure this does not happen again. This could include training, moving the harasser to a different office, or separating you from your harasser.
You May Not Have Enough to Sue
While you may not have enough to sue based off of a one-time occurrence, you should definitely report your harassment according to your company’s policy. It may have only happened once now, but it could happen to someone else or to you again later on. It is important to thoroughly document these interactions to build a case.