How to Deal with Sexual Harassment – Practical Strategies

If you have experienced harassment at the workplace, and you don’t know what to do or what steps to take. In fact, if you’ve filed a complaint, and you don’t know how to deal with it in everyday working life. Today, we’ll discuss how to deal with sexual harassment before and after filing the complaint other relevant issues, and practical strategies to deal with it.

How to Deal with Sexual Harassment – Practical Strategies 

Let’s discuss how to deal with sexual harassment and other issues relevant to it, and some of the practical strategies are as follows;

Punished for Complaining?

If you’re thinking that could you receive any type of punishment for filing the complaint against sexual harassment? The answer is no. In fact, the law (Title VII) prohibits employers from retaliating against any person or an employee that wants to file a harassment complaint. It means the law offers you protection from retaliation if you’re participating in the harassment proceeding, investigation, or speaking on behalf of your colleagues whose rights have been violated. Therefore, you shouldn’t fear speaking up for yourself or for others if you experience harassment at the workplace.

Being Sexually Harassed? What to Do?

Every harassment case is different, if you’re experiencing it, then some of the things that you should do are as follows;

I-Saying No

The first legal requirement in the sexual harassment case is to send the unwelcoming signal, and the harasser should clearly know that you don’t welcome his/her conduct. You should let the person know that his/her behavior offends you; refuse all of his/her dating offers, invitation, flirtation, or any type of sexual signals. It’s better if you talk to the harasser spoken or writing, instead of avoiding his/her behavior.

II-Reporting It

When you experience harassment, then it’s important that you should report it to the employer, so that he/she has a reason to make the harasser legally responsible. You should inform the HR department, supervisor, or any other person or department that has the power to stop the harassment. Filing a written complaint is much better than just discussing. Written reporting would make the company take certain actions, and they can’t deny it later that they never knew about it because it would be on the record.

III-Write it Down

You should write down all the details about the harassment when it happens, and be specific about the details in terms of time, place, date, and other witnesses. If it’s convenient for your colleague, request him/her to write it down whatever they’ve heard or witnessed. You should keep the written record at home rather than in the office.

IV-Keeping its Record

The harasser would defend him/her by saying that your performance was poor. Therefore, you should maintain a proper record of your working performance like performance evaluation reports and documents. If you don’t have your record, then you should collect all the copies of your work performance.

V-Talk to Others

If it’s safe, then you should discuss and confide with others. It would allow you to find allies and witness that they’ve experienced harassment from the same person or not. When you discuss it with friends and family, then you won’t only get emotional support, but also they can testify later.

Not Sure of Complaining/Don’t Know What Steps to Take

If you aren’t sure whether you should formally file a complaint against the employer or EEOC claim, or what steps to take, then you should keep in mind the following things;

  • Maintain a proper record of the discrimination when you experience it happening
  • Report it to the “Equal Employment Opportunity Officer” or any other person, some companies have mediation officer that would resolve such issues internally
  • Keep in mind the timing, the duration for reporting the discrimination is six months from the date of discriminatory event happened in order to protect your rights
  • Maintain a record and copies of your performance evaluation reports
  • Find support from any friends or family members to deal with difficult emotions
  • Discuss it with the EEOC to know your legal rights

Complain Didn’t Work/Still being harassed

You experienced harassment and reported it to the company, and the company didn’t do anything and you still experiencing harassment by your manager. You’re wondering what you should do. Now, the question is whether the company has investigated your complaint or not. You should contact the person with whom you filed the complaint the first time, and add the latest event of the harassment that wasn’t there in the first complaint. You should compel the company to investigate the harassment and take certain actions about it.

If the company has investigated your complaint and didn’t do anything, find out why. If the company hasn’t found sufficient proof, then check out with other witnesses whether the investigators have interviewed them or not. Perhaps your witnesses don’t want to lose their job, or the company didn’t investigate the whole matter thoroughly. Sometimes, companies don’t disclose the details of their disciplinary actions, and they won’t tell you what they’ve done.

However, if you’re still experiencing harassment after the complaint, then tell the boss that their actions didn’t stop the harassment. If your manager has taken some employment steps, then you should discuss with your lawyer what legal claim you have got.

Improper Investigation by Company

After filing the complaint against harassment, the company agreed to investigate the whole event. But the investigator didn’t interview any of the witnesses, and the company informed that they couldn’t find any proof of harassment. Now, you’re wondering what you should do.

If the harassment has stopped, then it means that the fear of investigation has made the harasser stop his/her harassing behavior. If you want to pursue your complaint based on the prior to your harassment experience. It would be a difficult legal battle because the company’s investigation could find anything.

If the harassment hasn’t stopped, then you can prove that the company’s investigation was not effective. You should discuss the whole issue with your attorney and ask him/her what legal claims you have got.

Confidentiality Breach of your Complaint

You filed a complaint against harassment to the company and requested the company to keep your complaint confidential because you didn’t want to pursue your complaint. The company breached the confidentiality of your complaint to your colleagues and the harasser. Now, what you should do.

When you filed the harassment complaint, the company made it clear to you that it would protect the confidentiality of the allegation to a great extent. But the boss can’t guarantee confidentiality, because it’s almost impossible to conduct the investigation by keeping everything hidden to the witnesses and the harasser. The company has to share your complaint to move forward with the investigation.

It’s a conflict between your demand for confidentiality and the legal obligation of your boss. If you filed a complaint and ask your boss for confidentiality and don’t take any action, then it would put subject your boss to a lawsuit in the future. It’s the job and legal obligation of the employer to stop the harassment.

Still Have to Work with Harasser

After reporting the harassment to the company, the harassing experience has stopped, but you’ve to work with the harasser, and it makes you feel uncomfortable. The company has refused your request for the transfer of either one of them. Now, what you should do.

In such a situation, the boss has got two options to follow. First of all, the disciplinary measure is relevant to the seriousness of the offense. If the harassing incident is minor, and the harasser doesn’t have a history of misbehavior, then warning and counseling are sufficient. However, if the harassment is serious and severe, then it’s necessary to discharge and suspend the harasser.

Secondly, the boss should keep in mind how the remedial measures would impact the victim. If the remedial measures punish the complainant, then it would result in retaliation and it won’t be an effective response to prevent harassment. However, some of the measures to stop the harassment are as follows;

  • Monitoring the harasser
  • Counseling and training the harasser, so that he/she would conduct better and follow the company’s policy
  • Discharge
  • Suspension
  • Low salary
  • Demotion
  • Reassignment or transfer
  • Written or spoken warning

Conclusion: How to Deal with Sexual Harassment – Practical Strategies 

After an in-depth study of how to deal with sexual harassment; some various issues and practical strategies; we’ve realized that sexual harassment is severe conduct at the workplace. If you’re planning to deal with any of the situations, then you should keep in mind the abovementioned suggestions and strategies.