When reporting workplace sexual harassment the employee making the complaint should fully understand the process. This is just as important for the individual being accused. Sexual harassment can be one of the worst forms of sex discrimination.

What is sexual harassment?

The (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) EEOC defines it as…

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

Here are a few examples of the different ways sexual harassment can happen.

  • Sexually explicit music
  • Constant unwanted flirting
  • Unwanted touching
  • Sexually suggestive jokes, comments
  • Emails, pictures, posters of a sexual nature
  • Leering or staring in a sexually suggestive manner

On the other hand there is no sexual harassment if the conduct is welcome.

For instance a male co-worker tells a sexually explicit joke to three female co-workers and everyone has a good laugh, but later two complain to a supervisor.

The one telling the jokes should understand that any sexually explicit comments could be offensive and best not spoken. It’s critical for the two co-workers to tell the harasser the joke was not welcome and made them uncomfortable. The third female co-worker had no complaint and enjoyed the joke.

reporting workplace sexual harassment

A Sexual Harassment Complaint

Hello my name is Yancey and I’ve seen a lot of verbal and physical encounters with co-workers over the years. I have been in the wrong place at the right time and heard employees and managers tell hardcore XXX jokes to men and women. Some of these I was certain would create sexual harassment lawsuits.

What one person finds humorous and funny, another thinks is disgusting, insulting and offensive. I personally believe that most people in the workplace don’t intentionally seek to harass sexually or otherwise. I believe the offended should at least calmly let the offender know what was said or done is unwelcome and to stop.

If this doesn’t stop the unwelcome language or physical contact then immediately report the work place sexual harassment to your manager or supervisor. Document all the sexual harassment at work, including the times, witnesses, dates and where it took place. I would ask for any and all documentation my employer had concerning its sexual harassment guidelines.

Following your company’s sexual harassment policy is essential to getting the problem solved. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII makes sexual harassment illegal and you have the right to report it. If the harasser is your manager or supervisor go over their head to the next level of management.

reporting workplace sexual harassment

A Harassment Lawsuit of a Sexual Nature

It is very important when reporting workplace sexual harassment that it be to the right person. Again, if the harasser were your supervisor then usually the human resource director or manager would be next in line. Whoever is appropriate should provide you with information on sexual harassment guidelines for your organization.

The person charged with investigating sexual harassment claims should tell you what choices you and your company can take to resolve the problem. Here are some examples:

  • Mediation (in some carefully controlled situations)
  • Investigator interviews the accused harasser
  • Memo to your department (addressing sexual harassment concerns while keeping you anonymous)
  • Memo or letter to
    the person accused of sexual harassment
    (detailing company policy of zero tolerance)

Reporting Sexual Harassment

If non of the above ends the problem you have the option of filing a harassment lawsuit for sexual misconduct. Seek legal advice from an attorney or get in touch with the EEOC. When trying to figure out what to do about a co-worker who is sexually harassing you, bear in mind no two situations are the same.

reporting workplace sexual harassment

Learn all you can about reporting sexual harassment. Follow this link for more EEOC info on sexual harassment compliance in the workplace.

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