Sexual harassment became a hot topic in 2017 with the #MeToo movement making headlines across the United States. The rise in awareness of this important topic resulted in a growing discussion of women and men’s experience in the workplace with sexual harassment.
It soon became clear that many people have experienced sexual harassment at work and felt they needed to put up with it to keep their jobs. It is important to know that if you have experienced sexual harassment that you have rights and may be able to pursue legal action.
Definition of sexual harassment
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says the definition of sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances. This can include pressure for sexual favors and dates, touching, unwanted emails, calls, teasing, jokes or sexual innuendo.
Astounding statistics of workplace sexual harassment
Around 60 percent of workers say that they experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Most people say they never bothered to report the harassment to a manager, union representative or HR department. The victims may be fearful of losing their jobs or making matters worse.
What to do if you are harassed
Realize you are not alone. Given the statistics, many people have experienced harassment at work. That does not mean you need to continue to be uncomfortable and stay silent. If you have experienced sexual harassment, do the following:
- Report the incident to managers, union representatives or HR.
- Keep detailed records of the incidents including names, dates, what occurred and if there were any witnesses.
- If harassment continues after you go through the proper channels at work, file a formal complaint. The three ways you can file a complaint are througha state’s human or civil rights commission, with an attorney and with the federal government through the EEOC.
Keep in mind that there are resources to help if you feel you have been subjected to sexual harassment at work. It is illegal for a company or individual within a company to retaliate because you filed a complaint.