Your workplace should be a safe place where you are free from discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, for some people, it becomes a dangerous place. If you have been harassed at work, there are three things you need to do.
Whether you work in a corporate office or a local restaurant, there are laws in place to protect you from harassment while on-the-job. You have the right to feel safe in your professional environment and workplace harassment is not okay. Unfortunately, despite legal stipulations in place to protect adults from harassment, sometimes this still occurs. In fact, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were over 28,000 workplace harassment claims in 2015. This number is incredible. It also means that regardless of laws, harassment can happen, so it’s important to be aware of what it looks like and how you should respond. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Identify the Harassment
Your first step in dealing with harassment is to admit that you are being harassed. For many adults, this can be challenging. No one wants to rock the boat at work. Admitting that you have been the victim of such an incident can be difficult to cope with. You might feel anxious, embarrassed, or frustrated. You might even feel humiliated, especially if other people witnessed the harassment. It’s important to remember that regardless of workplace policies and federal laws designed to protect employees, harassment can still occur. This may include sexual harassment or discrimination based on your age, gender, or even religion.
2. Document the Harassment
Make sure you can identify the dates, times, and places you were harassed at work. Know who harassed you. What happened? What did the other person say? Did you talk to your employer about this? Did they respond appropriately? Before you report the harassment or meet with an attorney to discuss your options, gather emails or text messages you have that discuss the incidents that occurred. This can help you provide a well-rounded report when you prepare to meet with HR or an attorney who will guide you through your next steps.
3. Report the Harassment
Federal law prohibits you from facing repercussions due to reporting the harassment. If you feel comfortable, you can report the harassment at your workplace according to the guidelines laid out in your employee handbook. If your office does not have workplace harassment reporting guidelines, or if you do not feel comfortable reporting the issue at work, you may report harassment directly to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
It’s also important that you meet with employment attorney who can guide you when it comes to reporting your harassment. An employment attorney understands that these types of situations can be very sensitive. They’ll advise you as to how you should proceed. For example, in some cases, filing charges may be necessary. An attorney can help you. Remember to reach out as soon as possible to get the assistance you need and the care you deserve.