3 steps to protect yourself from workplace sexual harassment

Sexual harassment at work can do real damage to your career. Someone in a position of authority might threaten you or deny you advancement opportunities because you have rejected their advances. You might struggle with your work performance when you have to cope with a hostile work environment caused by co-workers who make tactless jokes or frequently try to flirt with you despite your obvious discomfort.

Those coping with workplace sexual harassment sometimes think their only option is to quit. However, you have the right to fight back against sexual harassment too, and taking the three steps below will improve your chances of succeeding when you do.

Start keeping careful records

Written records that include all of the relevant details can help you prove your claim. Every time one of your co-workers makes an inappropriate joke or you face solicitations from your manager, you should write down what happened, when, where and who played a role.

Keeping records will help you show that it was more than one isolated incident but rather a series of inappropriate actions. Those records will help you when you move on to the next step.

Speak up at your place of work

If you are an extrovert, then you may feel comfortable speaking up to the co-workers or manager making your work experience uncomfortable. You could tell someone their flirtation is unwanted or their jokes are inappropriate.

If you do not feel comfortable speaking directly to those harassing you, then you should follow the reporting guidelines provided by your employer. You may need to speak to someone in management or Human Resources. By providing them with the details of the behavior you have encountered at work, you can prompt an investigation that could result in disciplinary measures for the people harassing.

Know when to ask for outside help

If your employer does not investigate your complaint, if they do not follow up on it or if they do not act to protect you, then you may need to take legal action. If your employer punishes you for speaking up, you really need to push back against their illegal retaliation.

You should not have to put up with sexual harassment at the workplace or face consequences for asking your employer to stop the harassment. Taking the right steps as soon as you recognize a co-worker’s behavior is sexual harassment will help you better protect yourself and the other people who eventually work for your employer.

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