The #MeToo movement has exposed just how prevalent sexual harassment is at the workplace. Women and men speak up against their bosses and co-workers who make unwanted sexual advancements, sexual favors, and sexual comments.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that should be dealt with promptly. If you are a victim, here are some steps that you need to follow to address the issue.
Is it Sexual Harassment?
Before you start calling employment lawyers in Denver, analyze the situation. The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace is nuanced and complicated. A coworker, for example, who compliments a female colleague’s clothing may not be considered sexual harassment if a) she was not offended b) he was a close friend c) the comment was not made in a creepy way.
The victim may not even be the person being addressed. Another employee who overhears the comment and is offended by it can also be considered the victim.
However, some cases are considered sexual harassment and should immediately be addressed. For example, a female boss telling an employee that they will be fired if they did not sleep with her is a serious issue
If you felt offended by a comment that a coworker made, speak up. Tell them how their behavior made you feel or how their actions create a hostile work environment for everyone. Sometimes, people do not realize how their words affect their colleagues because they do not know better. If you call them out, they might change their conduct.
Not everyone can speak up, however. If the offender is your superior, speaking up at the moment might lead to bullying, termination, and being blacklisted in the industry. If you cannot speak up, that is when you should escalate.
Talk to Your HR
Your human resources department should have a system in place for employees to report sexual harassment and assault in the office. Make sure to follow them. If, for some reason, you do not feel comfortable divulging your situation to the person in charge, you can talk to your manager or any manager in the company.
Gather evidence. Save copies or screenshots of text messages, e-mails, audio and video recordings that may support your case. Write a formal complaint letter that includes evidence or a detailed timeline that lists every comment, exact date and time they were made, and if the behavior continues to this day.
Try to report the incident within 180 days (up to 300 days in some states). If you take any longer, the company will not be liable to address the complaint.
Take Legal Action
If the company refuses to punish the perpetrator or if you experience retaliation for speaking up, get a lawyer. The law is on your side.
Most firms offer a free initial consultation to give you legal advice and talk about what can be done. Make the most of this and find a lawyer you feel comfortable working with. There are also advocacy groups that will help you find a lawyer to represent you and bring your harasser to court.
No one deserves to be made uncomfortable or threatened in their own workplace. If you experience sexual harassment, do not be afraid to take action. There are people who are willing to help you.