Unfortunately, sexual harassment against working women happens quite often, and it can appear in several forms. Physical, verbal, and even psychological forms of harassment can take place in a variety of settings, and if it is not dealt with correctly, this can result in significant emotional trauma.
The problem with sexual harassment is that it is not always out in the open, thus people are often not aware that it is happening around them. It is often difficult for women to report cases of sexual harassment through the proper channels.
This type of harassment can result in extreme stress, and causes a woman’s sense of control and self-worth to plummet. This, in turn, affects her productivity at work due to constant fear and lower confidence.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment at your office, or are currently experiencing this, here is how you can deal with such an unfortunate situation.
Be Verbal About It
Maybe an instance of physical contact seemed accidental or inadvertent the first time, but if you’re repeatedly receiving unwanted attention from a colleague, confront them openly and tell them to stay away from you. You have the right to let people know about any behavior that makes you uncomfortable.
Once the accused knows that you’re fully aware of their motives, they should be inclined to stop bothering you. To effectively communicate the seriousness of this issue, tell them that you’ll file a complaint if they refuse to stop their harassment.
Find Other Victims
If you are a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace, chances are, there are other women who have gone through a similar situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your coworkers and let them know about what happened to you. You may find others who have been harassed by the same colleague, and you’ll want to get in touch with them to discuss an approach to the situation.
Ask them about their personal experiences with this offender, and secure their testimonies in writing. If you’re planning to file a complaint, these written testimonies will come in handy.
Go to Your Supervisor
Of course, there are sometimes misunderstandings when it comes to sexual harassment, as a co-worker’s attempt to be friendly might come off as unwarranted or crossing the line. However, when you’re certain that a colleague is going out of their way to bother you, definitely talk to your supervisor about it.
If you want, you could write a formal letter to your supervisor, listing out the details of what happened and requesting a meeting to further discuss the issue. However, since this is often an urgent issue, it might be best that you go to their office directly and notify them in person about the problem.
Be Careful of HR
As a victim of sexual harassment, going to the HR department should be your first course of action, right? Unfortunately, the HR department often tends to care more about the interests of the company as a whole and might want to protect a valuable employee, even if they are accused of harassment.
Yes, this is unjust, but you should remember that the HR department is not really your friend. Be careful of whom you confide in, and make sure you know who you can trust.
Go to the EEOC
If your supervisor and senior manager fail to take immediate action, don’t wait any longer for them to handle the issue – go straight to the EEOC.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is a legislative body that enforces workplace policies and ensures that they’re followed to the letter. Their main goal is to provide equal opportunities to working people of all races, backgrounds, cultures, and genders.
Let them know about any incidents that occurred, and they will be sure to investigate the matter and address the issue.
The damaging effects of sexual harassment can have a lasting impact of a person’s life. You have no right to feel inferior or be treated disrespectfully at the workplace, and you must let your employer know when such incidents take place. By taking a stand, you can dissuade further cases of harassment and ensure that everyone is treated with respect in your organization.