How to Handle Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment, defined as unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or conduct of a sexual nature, is unacceptable in the workplace. Even though sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many employees still face workplace sexual harassment.
Title VII: Protecting Employees against Workplace Sexual Harassment
“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion”. Title VII protects employees against employment retaliation in response to filing complaints or speaking up about discriminatory acts.
Steps to Take If You Are Experiencing Workplace Sexual Harassment
If you are being sexually harassed at work, it is important to know how to handle the situation. Other employees may be facing the same harassment, but aren’t speaking up about it. It is essential to file a complaint to put a stop to the harassment you and potentially other employees are facing. Every situation is different, but here are general guidelines for handling and putting a stop to workplace sexual harassment:
- Consult your employee handbook: Your employer may have a sexual harassment policy in place. If so, follow the policy to report your complaint. It is always important to gather evidence, such as specific details, dates, times, places, and witnesses related to the harassment.
- Speak up to your harasser: If you are comfortable speaking to your harasser, you can talk to them about the harassment. They may not know the behavior is bothering you. Tell them what the behavior is and explain why it bothers you. You can also ask the harasser to stop the behavior.
- Speak up to your supervisor: If you do not want to speak to your harasser, or the behavior hasn’t stopped after speaking to them, contact your human resources department or supervisor.
- File a government complaint: If the harassment persists, and/or your company’s internal force is unable to solve your complaint, you have the option to file a government complaint. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Your case will be investigated, and they will attempt to resolve the complaint with your employer. In most cases you have 6 months from the date of the activity to file a charge.
1) U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Filing a Charge of Discrimination. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
2) AAUW. Know Your Rights: Workplace Sexual Harassment. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
3) AAUW. Know Your Rights: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Retrieved November 24, 2014.