Sexual harassment was rampant in many workplaces in Rhode Island until the #MeToo movement, when more people started opening up about their experiences where they were inappropriately touched, spoken to or subjected to unwanted advances. The state has since implemented laws that protect employees from harassment and made it easier to report it in the workplace.
Understanding sexual harassment
Sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that creates a hostile environment in which an employee feels intimidated, degraded, embarrassed or otherwise uncomfortable due to their gender. This can include suggestive comments, jokes or other behaviors of a sexual nature.
Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace
Under Rhode Island’s employment law, employers must provide their employees with a written policy that outlines how they will respond to and investigate reports of sexual harassment. The law also requires employers to provide education and training about sexual harassment for all employees at least once every two years. Additionally, companies are not allowed to retaliate against any employee who makes a sexual harassment complaint or participates in investigations related to such complaints.
Employers are required to take prompt and effective action when they become aware of sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes conducting an investigation, taking appropriate corrective and disciplinary action and providing support services for any employees affected by it.
Seeking help for workplace sexual harassment
If you believe that you have been sexually harassed in your workplace, it is important that you report it as soon as possible. You can file a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You should also keep records of any incidents or other evidence related to your case, such as emails or text messages, so you can provide them if necessary.