Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Troubling research suggests that at least 1 in 3 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. It is a frightening statistic that lifts the lid on the darker side of employment. Despite the relative frequency of these incidents, many companies are still ill-equipped to deal with harassment reports. This has left many women and men unsure of how to react to unwanted advances.
There is no question that sexual harassment in any way, shape, or form is a serious matter. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Commission, even behavior such as teasing or offhand comments can be considered harassment if it happens frequently enough that it creates an offensive or hostile work environment. It could also be considered sexual harassment if it leads to an adverse employment decision in which the victim is demoted or terminated.
Discuss the Issue With the Harasser
If you feel that you are being victimized by sexual harassment, the first person you may wish to speak to is the co-worker who is making you feel uncomfortable. Although this may be awkward, there is a chance that he or she is not aware that the behavior is inappropriate. An email or a memo may be your best option so that there is a record of your exchange. If you decide to speak directly to the person, it is a good idea to memorialize what was said after the conversation concludes with a follow-up e-mail to the person.
For example, if you have told John that he stands too close to you during conversations, and he continues to do so after you communicate the problem to him, you have good evidence of willful actions on his part.
You Do Not Have to Report the Incident to Your Boss
If your office manager or supervisor is committing the harassment, or if your manager has close ties to the offender, then it may be best to discuss the issue with someone else. Company policies usually dictate that you can go to whomever you are most comfortable speaking to about your situation – as long as it is someone who is capable of taking immediate and appropriate action. This may include a human resources representative, a regional manager instead of an on-site supervisor, or even the owner of the company. Whoever you report the sexual harassment to, it is a good idea to send a follow-up e-mail memorializing the conversation so that you have proof of when and what you reported.
Contact an Illinois Sexual Harassment Attorney
Before reporting an incident to your employer, it is a good idea to consult a legal professional with experience in the area of sexual harassment law to help you get sufficient facts to support your claim. To learn more about your available options, contact a skilled DuPage County sexual harassment attorney. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today. Let us provide the guidance you need in a challenging situation.