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Actions to Take if You Feel You Are Being Sexual Harassed at Work

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious violation, and may come in many forms. It may come from a coworker, or it may come from a superior. Sexual harassment will affect your career, your family and your relationships, and you should take action immediately if you feel that you may be sexually harassed at work.

Document Every Incident: If you feel that you are being sexually harassed at work, you should carefully document each incident that occurs. Dates, times and descriptions are important. Keep a log in a safe place so that you have all of the information you need should this behavior not immediately cease.

Ask the offender to stop: You should clearly ask the offender to stop the behavior that you feel is sexual harassment. Be clear and specific, and set up very firm boundaries, whether they pertain to being approached verbally or physically. Do this at the first sign of sexual harassment, to prevent inadvertently encouraging the harasser. Many offenders believe that their advances are welcome, whether the person they are targeting is involved in a relationship, married, or simply not interested. The more firm you are, the more quickly you may be able to stop the behavior.

Tell a trusted coworker: Try confiding in a trusted coworker. You may be surprised to find out that you are not the only one who feels they are being subjected to this behavior. There is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.

Report the harassment: If, after a firm rebuke, the harasser does not immediately stop bothering you, report the behavior to a superior. Find out what your companys formal grievance process is. If you do not receive a satisfactory response from the superior, or feel brushed off, then contact the human resources department of your company to file a formal complaint about the issue. Most businesses will not take it lightly when sexual harassment is reported, and a formal investigation should occur.

Document any negative consequences that occur: If you happen to be reporting a superior in your company, like your boss, and this person takes any seemingly retaliatory measures (denial of promotion, false documentation in personnel files, undeserved unsatisfactory performance reviews, etc.) then this should be carefully documented. You may ultimately need this information if you eventually seek any legal counsel regarding the sexual harassment.

Seek legal counsel if the problem is not rectified: If your company does not immediately and thoroughly handle the situation and prevent further harassment, hire an attorney to assist you through the legal process. There are serious legal ramifications to companies that do not properly handle allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Any time that you feel that you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, understand that you have every right to have this stop immediately. No one should be subjected to this type of abuse, and companies should protect all employees from sexual harassment at all times. Remaining professional, despite the attempts of the harasser to frustrate you or force you to remain quiet or leave the company, will serve you well as you try to navigate the proper channels to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.