You have landed your ideal job and cannot wait to get started. The problem is that as time goes on, you feel less secure about your position, and for some reason, going to work makes you feel uncomfortable. You deal with constant comments from a co-worker or supervisor about the way you dress, the way you look or the interaction he or she has with you. If this describes your situation, you may be dealing with sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can include all kinds of offensive behavior and applies to both men and women. It does not have to be a supervisor that is harassing you but can be anyone that makes you feel unsafe in the workplace. If you are concerned about sexual harassment toward you or someone you work with, do not make any of the following mistakes.
Do not ignore the harassment
If a behavior makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to ask the harasser to stop immediately. Let the individual know their behavior is not something you encouraged or wanted, and clearly tell them to stop the inappropriate actions. If you are uncomfortable with confronting the individual verbally, you can write a letter or email, or have a third party get involved.
Do not ignore the need for mental health care
Being sexually harassed in the workplace can be a traumatizing experience for both men and women. Harassment may cause anxiety, traumatic stress, depression, anger, withdrawal, headaches, fatigue and even problems with intimacy in personal relationships. The troubling effects that victims deal with should be addressed with a mental health care professional.
Do not take the word of the company as the final say
If you report a behavior to HR or to a supervisor and they claim it is not harassing, do not stop there. They may be protecting the individual or the company or simply not be aware of what constitutes harassing behavior. Consult a professional about how to handle harassment.
Do not forget to document the occurrences
As soon as the behavior starts, you should be writing it down or documenting in some way. If you have a case for sexual harassment, documented instances or proof can help your case. Keep any memos, emails or letters that contain harassing statements, and keep a log of when the behavior occurs.
Do not deal with it on your own
Sexual harassment law can be complex, and it is not something you should handle on your own. If you do not feel safe in the workplace, you need someone on your side who understands how to stop the behavior that makes you uncomfortable. We encourage you to speak to an attorney immediately.