Sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be a common problem, despite increased employee awareness and protections. In the United States, three out of four women experience sexual harassment at work, and one in three women are survivors of sexual assault in the workplace. In most cases, the harasser holds a position of power, creating an extremely uncomfortable and toxic work environment.
Often, survivors of sexual harassment are unsure about how to handle the situation, mainly if they are concerned that they will be retaliated against for confronting the harasser or reporting the behavior. If you have been sexually harassed at work, there are steps you can take to protect your legal rights and ensure that the unwanted advances do not continue.
While the thought of taking action against the person sexually harassing you may seem overwhelming, it may be in your best interest to do so for several reasons. For example, in many cases, confronting the individual will stop the offensive behavior from continuing. It is recommended that you document the conversation. If the behavior continues, you can use the documentation to prove you confronted the harasser about their unwelcome advances. The following are steps you should take if you are sexually harassed at work:
- Confront the person directly. Unless you do not feel safe doing so, tell the person that their comments or behavior is unwelcome and makes you uncomfortable. You may want to consider taking additional steps based on how they respond.
- Report the incident. If you cannot resolve the issue independently, you should report the incident to your supervisor or HR. By law, your employer must protect you against a hostile work environment.
- Document the incident. It is in your best interest to gather as much evidence as possible to prove that the incident happened. Try to have this proof available when you report the incident so that your accusation is taken seriously.
- Notify law enforcement. In cases where you are being stalked or assaulted, it is recommended that you report the incident to local authorities, who can investigate and determine the next steps.
What Behaviors Are Considered Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can range from apparent inappropriate touching to more subtle sexually suggestive comments. The following are common examples of sexual harassment:
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Offensive or sexually suggestive humor
- Physical touching or impeding movement
- Requiring sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits
- Leering, gestures, displaying sexual content, or other suggestive sexual conduct
- Sexual comments that are either spoken or written
What if My Harasser Threatens to Retaliate Against Me?
If you lose your job, are demoted, or face any other type of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, you could file a civil lawsuit against your harasser. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation against an employee for reporting a case of sexual harassment is prohibited by law.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Employees Who Have Been Sexually Harassed
If you were sexually harassed in the workplace, do not hesitate to contact our South Jersey employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel.