7 Steps To Take If You Have Been Sexually Harassed At Work

7 Steps To Take If You Have Been Sexually Harassed At Work

All Unwanted Sexual Touching Is More Than Harassment – It Is Sexual Assault

Today we are tackling a difficult and challenging subject.

It is important to understand that if someone touches you sexually at work, even over your clothing, it is not just sexual harassment or bullying  – it is also sexual assault and should be taken seriously.

But should you let  “harmless”  crude remarks and sexual innuendos go? No! If something is making you feel uncomfortable you should stop it right then and there before it escalates.

Here are steps to help you protect yourself and your civil rights if you have been or are being sexually harassed at work.

1. Confront The Harasser

Confront the person sexually harassing you. Look them in the eye and tell them what they did was inappropriate. Be specific and blunt – do not worry about being rude – you have a right to be.

2. Tell Them To Stop!

The first time someone does something you object to tell them “stop!”  Say it loud enough for others to hear for extra emphasis.  Never apologize or make excuses for the offender.

3. Document It Or Report It Immediately

Sexual harassment is wrong, illegal and deserves to be addressed.  But if you feel in your best judgment you have handled things in steps one and two above at least document the date, time, place, what happened, your action, and the harasser’s response.  If it ever happens again to you, or to someone else at work, you will have a history to refer to.

You can read the rest of these steps at this link.

Your rights to work in an environment free from sexual harassment are protected by  law in the US and the UK and in many other countries.  Your union or a lawyer will able to advise you if you have a case and what legal steps to take to sue your harasser or employer in civil court.

If you are physically injured by an attacker, you should call the police immediately, and then contact an attorney as soon as possible to document evidence you may need later to prove your case.

Many victims blame themselves in some way, or others may say a victim was “asking for it.”  But victims are not to blame – no one asks to be the subject of a sexual assault.

Please note! There is nothing clever about sexual horseplay in the office, even when the two main players are equal in power and believe they are consenting.  It is embarrassing and unpleasant for others.  And it may create a climate in which others see sexual harassment as acceptable.

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

2 thoughts on “7 Steps To Take If You Have Been Sexually Harassed At Work”

  1. I need help …my friend at work was let go yesterday because of harassment. The company (agency) that she worked told her not report to work for few days due to an investigation of her written report and was laid yesterday. I want to help her but I need an advice.

    1. This is a very difficult area to advise a friend on. I would suggest giving your friend emotional support and kindness rather than trying to advise on the legalities which are much better dealt with by a lawyer. In the UK if you have local law centre they may be able to help or Citizen’s Advice – here is a link http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/. It will be a good idea though for her to write down her own account of what happened and to record the name and contact details of possible witnesses

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