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What to do if you receive a sexually suggestive text or email

You're moving through your day, doing your job as scheduled, and all of a sudden you receive a strange text or email from a supervisor or coworker. You're taken aback, as it's sexually suggestive and you don't know exactly how to react.

If you find yourself in this awkward situation, it's important that you don't make any rash decisions. Here's what you should do instead:

  • Calm down and read it again: Carefully review the message to ensure that you fully understand its intent. It doesn't make it right, but you may find that the person was simply sharing a joke.
  • Print it out or save it: Depending on the type of message, make sure you print it out or save it on your phone. Doing so will work in your favor if you decide to report the person to HR or file a formal complaint.
  • Explain your stance: Tell the other person that you received their message and are uncomfortable. This may be enough to receive an apology and put the issue to rest once and for all.
  • Review your handbook: When doing so, search for guidance on how to file a formal sexual harassment complaint. It should include an outline of the steps you can follow.
  • Follow up with HR: Don't assume that the HR department is making things right. Follow up with them for information on the action they took and where things stand.

If you're a victim of sexual harassment at work and find that you're losing out as a result, perhaps due to a demotion, learn more about your legal rights and how to take action.

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