It may be the farthest thing from your mind, but workplace sexual harassment remains a very big problem throughout the country. Even with state and federal laws in place to protect against this, you never know when someone will cross the line.
If you have reason to believe you’re the victim of sexual harassment on the job, it’s critical that you take immediate action. There’s no guarantee that speaking up will turn the person away once and for all, but it’s better than sitting back and hoping for the best.
Here are five things you can say to someone who is sexually harassing you at work:
- I don’t appreciate your advances and would like you to stop right now
- Maybe you don’t understand what you are doing, but please stop as you are making me uncomfortable
- I don’t have any intentions of giving in to your sexual advances, so please stop what you are doing
- What you are doing is illegal, and it’s within my rights to report you to the HR department
- Please stop talking to me in a sexual tone, as it makes me uncomfortable and is against company policy
Obviously, the approach you take is based largely on the situation you find yourself in. With so many different forms of sexual harassment, you need to formulate your response based on your particular circumstances.
It’s your hope that speaking up is enough to make the person stop. This allows you to bring an end to the problem without having to escalate it.
However, if that doesn’t work or you still don’t feel comfortable, it’s critical to take the following steps:
- Review your employee handbook for language pertaining to sexual harassment
- File a formal complaint with your HR department
- Collect evidence and documentation to back up your claim
- Learn more about the state and federal laws designed to protect you
The worst thing you can do is assume that speaking up will get you in trouble. It’s illegal for your employer to take action against you, such as a demotion or termination, for filing a complaint.
Workplace sexual harassment is a big deal, so make sure you do whatever it takes to protect your legal rights.