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What you can do about sexual harassment in the workplace

Even with federal and state laws in place to protect employees, instances of sexual harassment in the workplace are all too common. If you find yourself a victim, it's imperative that you take immediate action to make things right.

Here are the steps you can take:

  • Speak your mind: Don't sit back and let the other person think it's okay to harass you. Tell them that they are in the wrong and that you are not going to stand for it. Make it clear that their conduct is offensive and they need to change their ways. This alone may be enough to put an end to the problem before it turns into something more serious.
  • Read your employee handbook: This should give you a better idea of the steps to take if you're the victim of sexual harassment. If your company doesn't have a set procedure in place for reporting harassment, you'll want to move onto the next step.
  • Report the incident: Start with your supervisor, but also include the HR department in your complaint. Keep detailed notes of every conversation you have about the incident.
  • Collect evidence: Anything you have that proves you were a victim of sexual harassment is something you should keep. For example, if the person sent you an off-color email, print it out for your records.
  • File an administrative charge: You can do this with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your state's government. Either way, you want the appropriate agency to step in and investigate your claim of harassment.

From here, consider the impact of the harassment on your employment. For example, if you lost your job or were demoted, you may want to take legal action to protect your rights. You can seek remedies such as:

  • Reinstatement
  • Back pay
  • Benefits that you lost as a result of the harassment

Most people assume they will never run into sexual harassment at work, just to find that this has become a major problem.

If you don't say anything, you shouldn't expect your situation to improve. Take immediate action with the idea of bringing an end to the harassment and protecting your legal rights as an employee.

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