Sexual harassment is all too common at work, and many people don’t do anything about it, simply because they’re not sure what they can do. Employees often feel powerless, or they are nervous to do anything because they don’t want to be fired. It’s important to understand that sexual harassment at work is illegal and there are many things that you can do to protect yourself.
Know Your Rights
First and foremost, be sure that you really know your rights. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that physical harassment is illegal, verbal harassment is illegal, and that harassment can be directed at both men and women. The law also states that you cannot be fired for filing complaints about harassment in the workplace, so you don’t need to let fear of losing your income keep you from doing the right thing.
Write It Down
Whenever anything happens in the workplace, make a note of it. Write it in a journal or on your computer. Be very specific about what took place, who was there, who did it, who saw it, and when it happened. In today’s digital age, you may also want to consider making videos, taking pictures or making audio recordings. At the very least, though, you want a calendar of events that you can turn to if you end up in court. This way, your memory won’t fail you when you’re stressed.
Be Vocal, Confident, and Professional
Like bullies, those who harass others are often looking for easy targets. Make sure that you’re not one. Don’t let the little things go. Make it very clear that you are going to be respected and tell people how you feel as soon as something seems inappropriate. Often, just speaking out at once can get things to stop right then and there. Plus, it’s often important in a legal sense to have been very clear about what you thought so that there is no gray area, thus showing distinctly that the actions or advances were unwanted and that both parties knew it.
It’s been said that as much as 80 percent of the harassment that takes place at work is accidental. Often, someone may think he or she is being kind, when you are actually being harassed. For instance, a co-worker may comment on your appearance in a lewd manner, but the co-worker may think you’ll take it as a compliment. By being vocal about this as soon as it happens, can often put an end to it.