What to do if you’re harassed on the job
Sexual harassment on the job can take many forms.
Sometimes it’s obvious. For example, if a supervisor promises you a promotion in exchange for sex, you’re probably going to quickly realize that something is amiss.
But what about the more-subtle forms of harassment? For example, what if a coworker repeatedly insists on giving you unwanted shoulder massages because you “look stressed?” Or what if your manager constantly talks about pornography, or even views it during work hours? Or what if one of your fellow staffers has a tendency to stand just a little too close?
The fact is, sexual harassment can encompass a lot of gray area. Let’s take a look at the two main forms of sexual harassment and then discuss what you should do if they happen to you.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
The most obvious form of sexual harassment is the quid pro quo variety.
Quid pro quo means to grant a favor in return for something else. An example of quid pro quo harassment might involve a manager offering you the opportunity for advancement if you agree to certain sexual favors.
Another quid pro quo scenario might involve a manager telling you that the only way to keep your job is to accept the manager’s sexual advances.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
A second common form of sexual harassment is behavior that creates a hostile work environment. That is, the behavior is so severe and pervasive that is has a negative impact on your working conditions.
Obviously, repeated and direct propositions for sex may fall into this category. However, it’s important to note that “severe and pervasive” can apply to some rather subtle behaviors.
For example, if a coworker, manager, or supervisor does any of the following with regularity, it may be enough to affect your working conditions:
- Puts his or her hands on you in any fashion
- Attempts to look down your shirt or up your dress
- Tries to create situations that would force you to be alone with him or her
- Discusses the opposite sex in a lewd or negative way
- Asks you to view pornographic images
- Discusses sex in a lewd way or asks you questions about your sex life
- Displays any behavior pertaining to sex that makes you feel uncomfortable
If It Happens to You
If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment, it’s important to report it right away—even if you believe the company won’t take any corrective action.
Before you can make a legal claim, you often need to show that the company was aware of the situation and had an opportunity to correct it.
Consult your company handbook to find out what your employer’s sexual harassment reporting procedures are. Often, you’ll be required to report the situation to human resources or to your manager.
In the best-case scenarios, the harassment will be addressed and will stop after your complaint.
If it doesn’t, it’s wise to speak to an attorney to find out more about your rights.
In the meantime, write down everything that you can remember, including dates, locations, and people involved. These kinds of notes may help build your case if you have to go court, and may even be admissible as evidence. Be as thorough and accurate as possible. Continuously update the timeline whenever anything new happens.
You should also cooperate with any investigations your employer is conducting, even if you intend on contacting an attorney.
Finally, don’t discuss your situation with anyone you work with. You don’t want misinformation from the company rumor mill to have a negative impact on your case.
Contact Us Now for a Free Consultation
If you believe that you’ve been sexually harassed at work, it’s a good idea to speak to an employment law attorney to find out more about your rights.
Email us at email@example.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.