Are you being sexually harassed? Any time another employee makes sexual comments or gestures, sexual advances or asks for sexual favors against your wishes, you are being discriminated against. Sexual harassment occurs in many different ways. These can include offensive jokes, crude writing on clothing, uninvited comments, and inappropriate banter. Other examples involve touching by a co-worker, patting, rubbing the back, and blocking another employee’s movements. Undesirable flirting, requesting dates, posting sexual pictures, and sending explicit emails are forms of harassment. Even playing suggestive music and displaying lewd objects and posters falls into this category.
Know your Rights
If you believe that you may be the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you are not alone. However, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself. It helps to find out what your rights are by speaking with a qualified lawyer. It helps to know what you are legally permitted to do, for example,if you can recordor tape a co-worker who is bothering you. It also helps to confide in someone you trust, who can support you during the process, and accompany you if you choose to filea police report. If you do decide to press charges or confront an employer, it helps to understand your rights.
Registering a Complaint
Typically, if you voice a harassment claim to another employee, your boss, or to a Human Resources (HR) representative, an investigation into the charges should follow immediately. As an employee, you are obligated to report any inappropriate behavior involving misconductright away. Keep in mind that sexual harassment even occurs between employees of the same sex. The perpetrator can be your boss, manager, client, co-worker, peer, supplier, or a salesperson. Anyone who is associated with you at your place of employment may be cited for sexual harassment. Moreover, any employee who witnesses sexual harassment can voice a complaint.
Reporting and Investigating a Complaint
Your employer needs to listen to your complaint, validate your claim, and follow up with an investigation. Furthermore, following the investigation of the harassment complaint, no retaliation is permitted, in spite of the outcome. The employee who registered a complaint may not be treated any differently than he or she was before the concern was filed. If, on the other hand, the person filing the claim lied, disciplinary action needs to be taken.
Finally, if you are aware that one of your supervisors is involved in a sexual relationship with another employee, you can file sexual harassment charges if your employer’s behavior appears to show preferential treatment toward his or her lover.
Most companies have harassment policies available in writing and following company protocol often helps to resolve the matter. Employees are advised to tell the person who is harassing the employee to stop. They need to say that their actions are unwelcome and uninvited. However, there are times when legal action is necessary, and it is essential that you know your rights!