Having rights is one thing. Feeling free and encouraged to use them is quite another. A poll conducted by the Huffington Post and YouGov found that a large number of respondents claimed they had been harassed at their place of work, with 13 percent claiming harassment by their boss or superior, and 19 percent claiming harassment by a co-worker who was not a boss or superior. Perhaps the most alarming data from the poll was that of those who claimed they had been harassed; 70 percent of them never reported the harassment.
A sad irony about employees’ rights, particularly as they relate to harassment or discrimination, is that employees who are already being made to feel uncomfortable must take the initiative to report harassment or discrimination in order to make use of the rights they are afforded. Anyone who has been the victim of such harassment knows that it’s not as easy as simply reporting the issue to your superior. In some instances, it is your superior who is harassing you, and even when your claim is taken seriously, it can be weeks or months before any real action is taken.
In the time between reporting an incident and seeing action taken, you are not only still suffering from harassment, but now you are plagued by the fear that your harasser might find out that you reported them and retaliate against you. In times like this, it can truly feel like there is no sanctuary from your torment, but it’s important to remember that you do have rights, and it’s up to you to exercise them.
This applies to more than sexual harassment victims, but also victims of discrimination, whether it is based on age, race, gender or any other factor. San Francisco residents should know that employees’ rights are taken very seriously in our area. If you feel uncomfortable about your circumstances, you can bring your concerns to a legal practitioner, who can help you make a case before the courts and ensure that your harassment or discrimination is taken seriously and handled properly.