Steps to take when facing workplace sexual harassment

If you experience sexual harassment at your job, you do not need to put up with it. Sexual harassment is unlawful behavior. There are laws that protect you from sexual harassment in the workplace, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Rhode Island even has its own protection for workers that requires employers to enact a sexual harassment policy.

You have the full right to confront sexual harassment. There is no reason to simply tolerate harassment and be quiet about it. Here are some of your options for dealing with inappropriate conduct at your job.

Speak up

The perpetrator of sexual harassment may not be fully aware that his or her conduct is offensive or unlawful, especially in cases that involve a hostile work environment. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable at work, you should let him or her know. This may stop the harassment. Even if it continues, at least you let the harasser know that you do not approve of this conduct.

Read up on employer procedures

State law explicitly requires every employer to have a policy against sexual harassment and provide a copy of it to every worker. Take a look at this policy to determine whether the company has a specific procedure for dealing with complaints of harassment. 

Consider submitting an administrative charge

If your employer does not adequately resolve the matter, you may need to pursue a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This agency is responsible for investigating claims of sexual harassment and determining whether you have the right to sue your employer.

Think about litigation

In the event that the EEOC determines you have a valid claim, you may wish to bring a lawsuit against your employer. A civil lawsuit can allow you to receive monetary compensation for the emotional suffering and financial losses you experience due to sexual harassment.

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