Hae you experienced sexual harassment in your place of work? The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is one of the agencies that investigates these complaints. The EEOC offers information for employers and employees about dealing with sexual harassment.
Typically, the employer is liable if a supervisor creates a hostile work environment. An employer has to be proactive in preventing and correcting sexual harassment on the job. According to the EEOC, the employer can also avoid liability if the employee "unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer."
If you have been sexually harassed
The EEOC makes these recommendations for employees dealing with sexual harassment:
- Employees should inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome. Although this can be difficult if the harasser is a supervisor, there should be a procedure in the company that outlines who the employee can go to.
- Employees should also inform management about harassment at the early stages. This prevents escalation. Many people believe harassment will stop if ignored, but that is not true.
- Harassment victims are not only the people who can be impacted. Offensive conduct often affects others. Any employee, victim or not, who believes that sexual harassment is occurring should come forward.
Sexual harassment is more common than most people realize. Experts suspect it goes underreported by employees who are afraid of losing their job or other forms of retaliation. Employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees who come forward, but it still can be frightening for workers to discuss sexual harassment with a superior.
You are not alone in confronting sexual harassment in the workplace, even though it can feel as if you are. You do deserve a safe and friendly workplace, but to obtain one, you may need to address the issue yourself. Sometimes, it is a good idea to speak to an employment attorney who can provide information about your legal rights to give you confidence when you do report the problem.