Sexual harassment can take many forms, but when it happens in your workplace it can be extremely uncomfortable and unwelcome.
Employers are legally obliged to respond to any complaints by their employees that they have been subjected to sexual harassment. There are state and federal laws that make sexual harassment at work illegal.
Even if you are being harassed by your own manager, there are steps you can take to stop it. Read the following tips to guide your response to sexual harassment by a manager.
Tip 1: Ask Your Manager to Stop Harassing You
Remember that sexual harassment is not to be tolerated in the workplace. Whether they are jokes, comments or taunts of a sexual nature, unsolicited emails, text messages, inappropriate videos or physical touching or groping, this is not acceptable at work.
The first step should be to let your manager know that you regard his/her behavior as unacceptable and that you want it to stop.
Let your manager know that you feel uncomfortable / disgusted etc. and that it is affecting how you do your job. Use the best way of telling your manager to stop harassing you, but if you do it by email, letter or text message, make sure you keep a copy in case you need it later as evidence.
Tip 2: Keep a Paper Trail of the Harassment Experienced
Even if the harassment is just a one off remark and stops, you should make a note of what happened, where and when it happened, who was harassing you and whether you did anything to stop it.
Physically make a record of any subsequent harassment either in a notebook or digitally. This will form a ‘paper trail’ that you can use as evidence later if you need to do so.
Any response you made to the harasser should be added to the paper trail. If there is a trusted co worker you can tell about your experience, then do so. It is possible that this form of harassment is more widespread in your workplace and you can use this as evidence if you have to use a state or federal agency to investigate a complaint made to them.
Tip 3: File a Formal Letter to HR
If the manager stops harassing you, then you may be lucky. Some managers may think they can use the power advantage with employees under their supervision.
If the harassment does continue in any unacceptable form, your next step will be to file a formal complaint with your HR department or at a more senior management level. Include all details of the harassment behavior, when it happened, the name of the manager involved, etc.
Make sure you include the fact that you find it unacceptable, that it makes you feel uncomfortable and is negatively having an effect on your work output.
Attach a copy of your ‘paper trail’ to show that you have been recording what has happened and that you have already asked the manager to stop harassing you and that this hasn’t happened.
Tip 4: Speak to an Attorney
An attorney with sexual harassment experience can help you file a complaint with a state anti discrimination agency or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission if your employer fails to deal with your sexual harassment experience. The actual agency may depend on the size of your workplace.
Government agencies will endeavor to resolve the complaint. If they are unsuccessful, your attorney can help with legal action against your employer through a civil lawsuit.