When you go to work it should be in a safe and comfortable setting so you can actually work. It is not a place where anything goes. There are some people that actively create a hostile work environement namely by sexually harassing coworkers.
When you feel like you are being sexually harassed it can be quite traumatic. Many people who are sexually harassed often feel powerless because of the power imbalance even though sexual harassment is against the law. This then creates an even bigger problem psychologically.
Although it might seem like there is nothing you can do aside from quit your job, there are things you can do to remedy the situation. To get justice and improve your working conditions we put together several steps to take when you are being sexually harassed at work.
1 – Document everything
When you need to bring a case forward there is going to be evidence required. If you don’t document the offenses then a complaint looks too general and won’t likely be taken seriously by Human Resources.
Every time there is an episode, make sure to write down the time it happened and the circumstances. If there was anybody there that witnessed it make sure to include that in the report. If there are inappropriate text messages being sent then you need to save these and include it in your documentation.
When you go to report this to your upper management you will have more of a case of an ongoing problem. Then when you bring it to a sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles or wherever you live, they can put together a timeline that will help your case.
The same goes for if you report the problem to the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. The more evidence you have the better it is for you.
2 – Tell your harasser
While you are documenting the harassment you should also be making it clear to your harasser that what they are doing is inappropriate. They likely already know that what they are doing is wrong and simply don’t care. However, when they are told directly that you won’t stand for it then it might work to stop the behavior.
This is easier said than done in many cases however. Because of power imbalances, there are often times when you feel like you are jeopardizing your job by saying something when the person harassing you is a superior. Even when there is no power imbalance and your coworker is on your level, it can be difficult to say anything to not seem like you are rocking the boat.
When you have evidence ready then it makes it a lot easier to speak out.
3 – Find a new job
Unfortunately, there are some companies who are not interested in doing anything about toxicity in the workplace. You should go to a lawyer and also report the incidents to the EEOC, but you may not want to return to your workplace. In some cases, they may get rid of the harasser but the fundamental problems there remain.