What to Do If You're a Victim of Sexual Harassment
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, know that you are not alone. Research from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicates that as much as 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. And, while women suffer the majority of workplace sexual harassment, nearly one in five workplace sexual harassment claims are made by men.
Despite the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in the workplace, it seems clear that there is much room for improvement. More than half of U.S. sexual harassment claims at work result in no charge. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, but one key reason is that victims remain silent.
An important YouGov and Huffington Post poll from 2013 found that 3 in 4 employees who experience sexual harassment do not report the behavior. Why? One common reason is the fear of retaliation, which, sadly, appears to be well-founded. The previously cited EEOC report referred to a study where 75% of employees who spoke up about mistreatment in the workplace faced some type of retaliatory measures.
What, then, should employees do after being subjected to sexual harassment? Here are a few key points of action to take.
Don't Ignore the Harassment. Make Your Voice Heard
Know that you do not have to remain silent when facing sexual harassment. When possible, let the harasser know that their conduct is offensive, especially if the harasser is an individual who likely cares about your concerns or causing offense. In some instances, making your voice heard will resolve the issue outright.
Letting harassers know that the behavior is unwelcome ensures you will have evidence that you raised an objection to the improper and offensive behavior. To this end, it may be wise to put your objection to the co-worker's harassment in writing via email, which will provide documented evidence if the harassment continues.
If Harassment Continues, Report the Matter
Reporting harassment according to employer policies and procedures gives your employer the opportunity to address the matter with remedial and corrective action. To do so, the employer should swiftly and effectively address the matter by conducting an impartial investigation.
While it may feel unsafe or threatening to report the behavior, know that it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against victims of sexual harassment for raising attention to the problem. Further, if victims do not report the conduct, an employer can claim that they could not correct the harasser's bad behavior because they were unaware the problem existed.
An Arizona employment lawyer will protect your rights if an employer retaliates against you, and clear evidence of retaliation will warrant legal action against any employer that violates Arizona and federal law.
In addition to reporting the harassment to the employer so a proper investigation can be conducted, you may also wish to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Arizona's Civil Rights Division to file a sexual harassment charge. Typically, these agencies reach out to the employer in an attempt to resolve the situation.
If You Are Unsure Whether Offensive Behavior Rises to Sexual Harassment, Talk to an Arizona Employment Lawyer
If you have questions about what is considered sexual harassment in the workplace, know that this form of workplace misconduct is governed by specific criteria set forth under federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and The Arizona Civil Rights Act. Both bodies of law take a strong stance against sexual harassment in the workplace.
It may be beneficial to look over Title VII and Arizona law to determine whether the offensive actions constitute sexual harassment. While doing your own research can be helpful, the best way to fully determine whether sexual harassment occurred is by reaching out to an Arizona sexual harassment lawyer who will meticulously review the facts and apply them to federal and Arizona law.
This is important to do early on, even as you report the sexual harassment conduct to an employer and civil rights agencies. Your Arizona employment lawyer will be able to properly advise you each step of the way in order to fully protect your rights with dedicated legal representation.
Contact Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC if you have been sexually harassed in the workplace so that we can properly advise you and protect you from workplace misconduct.