According to a recent poll reported by NPR, as many as 81% of all women surveyed claimed to have been the victims of sexual harassment at some point in their lives. This remarkable, but perhaps unsurprising, statistic highlights the fact that sexual harassment continues to be very much a part of the American workplace. So, what can you do about sexual harassment at work?
Make Your Wishes 100% Clear
Sexual harassment, by definition, occurs when sexual advances or other conduct are unwelcome. It can also take place when someone behaves in a way that makes sex a factor in employment, hiring, retention, termination, and so forth. The key in almost every circumstances is that the behavior must be unwelcome. Therefore, as soon as you suspect that a co-worker or boss is making advances or suggesting sexual conduct, you need to be absolutely clear and unambiguous in making sure that individual (as well as others) knows you do not welcome the behavior.
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Report Sexual Harassment to Supervision
Next, make sure that you communicate each instance of sexual harassment to a supervisor, manager, or personnel liaison right away. Fortunately, most employers want to avoid problems. They will take swift actions to stop the behavior and maintain a professional working environment. But just for good measure, make sure you create a paper trail by documenting that you have informed management. Emails are a great way to do this. Something as simple as an email can forever document that you made your superiors aware of the problem.
How to Report Sexual Harassment the Right Way
When communicating with superiors, it can be touchy. You should never just send an impersonal or threatening email or office memo to a boss, telling him or her about a sexual harassment problem. Instead, make an appointment and sit down with the supervisor. If the supervisor is the problem, you will want to go to the next level above that person or a human resource contact. When discussing the issue, explain that you are bringing up the problem early in order to put an end to conduct so you can get back to work. Focus on just relating facts. Try to avoid the complex backstory that usually accompanies these situations. Above all, be professional.
Once you have had the conversation, send a courteous and polite follow up email to that supervisor or manager, thanking them for the time and summarizing your concerns. This not only documents and memorializes the first meeting, but it creates a second documented notice to your employer.
What to do if Conduct Continues? Contact a Long Island Sexual Harassment Attorney!
If your employer does not take actions to fix the problem or the conduct continues despite management getting involved, it may be time to take legal action. Time is limited for you to bring a sexual harassment claim against your employer, so it is important to speak with a Long Island employment law attorney as soon as possible. On Long Island and throughout NYC, the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP are trusted employment lawyers with years of experience helping people through these sensitive and delicate cases. If you are facing workplace discrimination or sexual harassment, call us today to schedule a meeting to discuss your case.