Sexual harassment in the workplace can severely affect your enjoyment and productivity at work. Instead of looking forward to meeting challenges and accomplishing tasks, you dread going to work because of the environment that awaits you there.
Whether you are being harassed by a co-worker, boss or a client, all forms of sexual harassment can leave you feeling uncomfortable, threatened and objectified. No one should have to face such an environment on a daily basis, which is why sexual harassment is illegal.
Both federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. These laws are in place to protect workers like you, in order to foster healthier work spaces and encourage lasting employment.
How Do I Know If I am Being Sexually Harassed at Work?
When you have a constant sense of foreboding about the work day ahead of you due to someone else’s comments or behaviors, you could be experiencing sexual harassment. It is important to recognize sexual harassment for what it is so that you can take the appropriate steps to make it stop.
If a co-worker, superior or client at work repeatedly offers unwelcome verbal commentary on your appearance, your gender or similar topics, this could be sexual harassment. While a single compliment that you look nice is not considered sexual harassment, repeated unwelcome remarks can be construed as crossing the line, creating a hostile work environment.
The two most dominant traits of hostile work environment sexual harassment are that they are unwanted and repetitive. A single flippant statement may offend you, but if it is a one-time occurrence, that is usually not enough to constitute sexual harassment, unless it is of an explicit or severe nature.
Another form of sexual harassment is quid pro quo sexual harassment, in which you are left feeling like you will be punished in some way if you do not offer sexual favors to your harasser. This could be offered in way to entice you to partake in sexual acts for better job opportunities, or it could be delivered as a threat that you will suffer demotion or other punishment if you do not comply.
Regardless of which kind of harassment you are experiencing, they all are illegal and you have rights to ensure your safety at work and continued employment.
|Steps To Take If You Are Being Sexually Harassed at Work|
Document All Instances of HarassmentIf a conversation or event at work leaves you feeling uneasy and unsure if you were just sexually harassed, document it. Write down in a notebook, on a phone app, or create a calendar event to briefly describe what happened.
Whether someone verbally harassed you or made unwanted physical contact, describe the event, quoting as much as you can remember. Include the date, time, names of the people involved and nearby, as well as the environment.
While a single comment or event might be considered just an anomaly, and not enough to constitute a strong sexual harassment case, you never know when a single event is the first of repetitive events to come. Therefore, it is important to document everything, even if it is the first time, just in case it does repeat.
Likewise, one single event toward you may be the only time you experience the harassment, but if you work for a company with a large number of employees, your harasser may be performing the same acts or making similar comments to various other employees. Your one documented instance could be combined with others’ accounts to build a case against your harasser.
If the harassment does continue, be sure to document each and every example of harassment, even if they are different types. Write down all comments, touches, threats and innuendos. Remember to include the date, names of witnesses and any other details each time you document the harassment and save it securely.
Address the Harasser to Ask Him or Her to StopThis is a very important step in making sure you protect your rights. You MUST let your harasser know that his or her comments or actions are making you uncomfortable and request that they stop this behavior.
One of the best ways to do this is to use a company email program. Simply email your harasser that the comments or attention is unwelcome and you wish for it to stop. Include specific details about what transpired so you are clear as to which words or actions made you feel uncomfortable. State that this person made you uncomfortable and that you wish to bring it to his or her attention so the actions stop.
You do not need to be confrontational or argumentative, but you do need to be clear. By using email, you automatically have a saved record to show that you addressed the actions and brought it to your harasser’s attention. This helps to build your case should you need to report it if the actions do not stop.
Report Your Harasser to Human ResourcesIf the actions or commentary does not cease after you have specifically asked your harasser to stop, then you need to report the events to your human resources department and/or your boss. If your harasser IS your boss, go directly to human resources. If your harasser works in HR, or nothing comes of your initial report to HR, you can contact local and federal bureaus for employment fairness.
In New Jersey, you would file with the Office of the Attorney General for New Jersey. Before filing, you should contact an employment lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment cases to ensure your filing is complete and appropriately verified.
Contact the Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney
Castronovo & McKinney is an employment law firm that specializes in sexual harassment in the workplace. Our New Jersey sexual harassment lawyers have successfully filed suits for our clients and won them both compensation for their harassment, and protected their rights to work in a safe environment. No one should feel that their ability to earn a fair wage is threatened by sexual harassment. Call us today for a free consultation of your case.