No one should tolerate sexual harassment on the job, but it happens every day. Some people do not even realize that they have been harassed because it is so benign in the beginning. Things can escalate, and a culture of sexual harassment might grow if it is not stopped. Instead of allowing sexual harassment to create a hostile work environment, there are a few things you should do with the understanding that California does not test well in this area.
In the state of California, incidences of sexual harassment measured five percent higher for women and 10 percent higher for men than the national average. This staggering statistic points to the fact that Californians are far more likely to be harassed at work than their counterparts across the country, and it also begs the question—what should you do about it?
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted gesture, remark, or touching that occurs. When this happens in the workplace, some people feel they need to let it go on because they need their job. Some people assume that it is part of a lighthearted corporate culture, and others are simply assaulted with sexual gestures, remarks, and touching from the beginning.
All of these things are sexual harassment irrespective of the gender of the aggressor:
- Sexual remarks
- Remarks about your sex life
- Remarks about your body or how you find mates based on your body shape
- Unwanted pictures or emails
- Being cornered by someone who is making sexual gestures or remarks
- Quid pro quo harassment that puts your job on the line
You could be harassed by your boss, a colleague, or someone in another department. You might also be harassed by an independent contractor who is rarely in the office. No matter how it happens, sexual harassment is intolerable.
What Should You Do?
Document. Document. Document. You need to pull yourself together and document as much of the harassment as you can. You should write down:
- The name of the aggressor
- Any witnesses
- Anyone else who participated
- And who you reported the harassment to
You should report sexual harassment to your superiors or the human resources department as soon as possible. In a perfect world, these people will step in to make it stop, transfer the aggressor, possibly have them arrested, and even terminated.
What if You Feel Uncomfortable Reporting this Behavior?
You might be aware of a corporate culture that “sweeps harassment under the rug” because you have been told never to report these occurrences. If this is the case, you need help from someone outside your company. Do not quit until you have dealt with this issue.
What is Your Employer Barred From Doing in Light of Your Allegations?
You should speak to an employment lawyer who can help you report these instances of harassment and hold the aggressor and even your employer to account. If your employer allowed this to happen, the corporation should be take to court along with any aggressors who has harassed you. You cannot be terminated or demoted for reporting sexual harassment.
Because you followed the tips above, you have documentation of everything that happened, and that information will help you bring this all to a stop much faster.