No workers want to experience sexual harassment which, on a severe scale, can lead to permanent mental impact. However, if unfortunately you or someone you know is being sexually harassed or assaulted, it’s important to be fully aware of your rights and actions to take to protect yourself.
This article will discuss some initial actions to ensure your well-being as well as provide some appropriate options to defend your rights.
5-point Checklist To Protect Your Rights
1. Workers’ Rights
Every worker has the right to work in a safe, discrimination-free environment. Thus, policies and procedures to prevent workplace sexual harassment are legally mandatory within any entity.
The policies alone are not enough, they must also be enforced by employers. Plus, there must be training requirements for all employees, managers, and agents on workplace sexual harassment including clear reporting procedures and how the employer will act upon reports of this problem. Any report of workplace sexual harassment must be thoroughly and promptly investigated. Also, an employer must take actions to stop workplace sexual harassment quickly and effectively, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Employees have the right to talk about and speak up against sexual harassment, whether it’s happening to you or someone else.
Firing or negatively changing the victim’s job is not acceptable in the event of workplace sexual harassment.
2. Speak Up
If you feel safe and comfortable enough, you can tell the harasser to stop and make it clear that the offensive behavior is unwelcome. You can do so either verbally by talking to that person directly or on the phone, or by written platforms such as letters, text messages, or emails.
If you go for the second option, remember to keep copies in case you need proof later. Otherwise, if you decide to do so verbally, you may want to ask a reliable co-worker to go with you as a witness.
In case you feel insecure talking or writing to the harasser directly, it’s still crucial to keep detailed notes about what you experience and your interactions. It’s essential to find a safe place outside of work, like at home or in a journal, your personal phone, or your email account.
3. Record Evidence
Detailed and accurate notes are crucial and may work wonders for you later should you want to file a claim. Hence, meticulously write down all you have experienced including dates and times when the harassment occurred, where it occurred, what exactly was said or done, who said/did it, how you reacted, and the witnesses who were there.
Additionally, it’s better to keep the notes with you all the time so that you can note down every inappropriate behavior right away, while the memory is fresh.
Document accurate details of complaints, reports, conversations, meetings about the harassment, including with HR, your supervisor, or the harasser. Providing your employer has retaliated against you, keep detailed notes of every action that happened, when, where, and any witnesses.
It’s hard to make your employer take action unless you report the harassment to someone in a position of authority at work.
Suppose it’s a hazard to you or you don’t feel like it is safe enough to do so, consider making an anonymous report to HR or a manager.
Plus, some employers operate helplines such as an employee assistance program or so and there are also non-profit organizations that allow you to report problems anonymously.
But bear in mind that if you only report harassment anonymously, and don’t say when, where, to whom things happened, your employer may not be able to investigate or correct the behavior.
5. File A Complaint
Having experienced harassment at work is already a terrible scenario to have at work. It can still become worse when your employer, despite acknowledging all that, has taken no actions at all to stop it, ignored your report, or even retaliated against you for complaining or supporting someone else’s complaint of harassment.
If that is your case, it’s time to file a legal complaint or even a lawsuit against your employer in court. Take your time to research carefully into deadlines and be well-prepared with beneficial and accurate evidence beforehand.
If you are inexperienced and unsure what to do, seek professional help from a reliable specialized lawyer.
The trauma of sexual harassment needs to be handled with care. Don’t overlook any underlying feelings or peculiar symptoms. It’s important to find healthy ways of dealing with these emotions. If you see no improvement after a long period, it’s best to consult a doctor for appropriate recommendations. Always pay attention to your health and well-being!