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Following company policy after sexual harassment

The company you work for should have a written policy about sexual harassment in the workplace. In fact, this should have been one of the first policies you saw on your first day in the new job.

However, in spite of company policy, you may find that workplace sexual harassment exists and is making your working life uncomfortable. What should you do?

Speak up

You may have been exposed to some lewd jokes or unwanted touching. Although it will probably be awkward, you should confront the person who is making you feel uncomfortable. The perpetrator may not realize that he or she has offended you and will put the brakes on if you speak up.

Follow complaint procedure

In addition to a company policy about workplace sexual harassment, there should be a procedure for lodging a complaint. In larger companies, you would likely take your complaint to the human resources department. However, in a smaller company, there is usually a manager or other staff member trained to handle complaints and stop harassment of all kinds in the workplace. In any case, it is a good idea to keep notes about any troubling incidents. These notes can add fuel to your complaint.

Prepare for an unexpected outcome

Your employer may launch an investigation that proves to be inconclusive. On the other hand, the investigator might turn up some evidence that supports your claim, but only enough for what you may consider light punishment, such as giving your tormentor a warning or recommending behavioral training. In the end, you should prepare for the fact that you may still have to work with this person.

Consider other options

You should not have to endure a hostile workplace. If you have reported the incidents of sexual harassment properly but have had little or no corrective assistance from your employer, remember that there are legal options to pursue. You may file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and you may also be able to file a lawsuit. A little legal “muscle” can go a long way toward finding a solution to workplace sexual harassment.