Our rights as employees have come a long way in just the past fifty years. There was a time that a tap on your female secretary’s behind was acceptable. In fact, some used to see this a compliment. Imagining all the things we used to consider acceptable or normal is sometimes mind boggling. However, with the advancement of employee rights, sexual harassment is no laughing matter. Employees have filed lawsuits against companies that mishandled a sexual harassment case and have settle for financial compensation. Legal action is not always necessary when dealing with sexual harassment, but it is a valid option as it is well within an employee’s legal rights.
Whenever we are in an uncomfortable situation that could potential lead to a co-worker or superior sexually harassing you, we should always communicate that the physical or nonphysical actions are not acceptable. However, sometimes we do not realize what is happening until later where we start feeling uncomfortable. In either case, it is important to document when it happened, where it happened, who was there (if anyone) and lastly who was making you feel uncomfortable. In situations where you believe it was minor and did not bother you immensely, then an email to HR might be sufficient. In the email, make sure to explain in as much detail as possible what happened.
Any HR department has the best interest of the company first. Many times HR is there to keep the calm at the office and avoid having someone going to Brazoria County Bail Bonds to bail a coworker out of jail because things got out of hand in the office…just as an example. In sexual harassment cases, HR’s responsibility is to make the employee feel comfortable again. Whether this means eliminating the person causing the situation or other actions to appease the situation. However, HR may not always be the best option if the person making you feel uncomfortable is a powerful person at the company. In these situations, it will be best to consult with an attorney specializing in sexual harassment before taking further action.
Consulting with an attorney does not necessarily mean that you will have to file a lawsuit against the company you are employed. Consulting with an attorney will allow you to better evaluate your options to make an educated decision on how to move forward in your situation. Plus, an attorney could also provide legal advice for what kind of documentation and evidence you would need to pursue a lawsuit against your company. On the other hand, you may not have a strong legal case against the company where you are employed, in which case having this knowledge from an attorney could save you time and money before making any drastic decisions.
Sexual harassment is a serious matter and requires proper evaluation when someone suspects they are being sexually harassed at work. It is everyone’s responsibility to treat this matter with respect and caution. This will ensure a better working environment where everyone can benefit and be successful.