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What to Do if You Believe You Have Been Sexually Harassed

Posted on July 20, 2021

When many people think of sexual harassment, their first thought is of an older male boss trying to elicit sexual favors from a younger female subordinate. While this is one example of sexual harassment, it is hardly all-encompassing.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature … when submission to or rejection of 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.[1]

A victim of sexual harassment could be male or female, old or young, and straight or gay. Similarly, the harasser could be a supervisor, a colleague, a supervisor in another department, or a non-employee. [2]

There are numerous behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment. Some frequent ones are:

  • Linking a promotion or coveted assignment to romantic/sexual favors
  • Sending sexually suggestive communications, such as emails, pictures, videos
  • Inappropriate touching or unnecessary brushing against someone
  • Staring or whistling
  • Engaging in suggestive conversation or making sexual comments about one’s appearance

The most important criterium in determining if a behavior is sexual harassment is if the behavior is unwelcome.

What Are Your Options If You Are Being Sexually Harassed?

  1. If you can, tell the harasser that their behavior is unwelcome and must stop[3]. When possible, put your communication in writing. If you can’t put it in writing, keep a log of your communication.
  • If you can’t tell the harasser to stop, or, if you do and they continue to harass you, find out if your employer has an anti-harassment policy. If so, follow the steps outlined in the policy[4].
  • If your company does not have a policy, then speak with a supervisor in the company – this could be your supervisor, the harasser’s supervisor, or any supervisor that you feel comfortable approaching[5].
  • If the harassment still continues, you have two options: 1) File a discrimination charge with the EEOC[6], or  2) Contact an attorney experienced in dealing with sexual harassment cases to represent your case to the company and/or EEOC.  Working with an attorney sends a clear message that you will not tolerate this behavior.

The company is prohibited from taking retaliation against you for a sexual harassment claim.

If you believe you are being sexually harassed at work, don’t suffer in silence. Contact ECanter Lawyers to evaluate your case, discuss your options with you, and fight for the justice that you deserve.

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[1] EEOC. Facts About Sexual Harassment | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Accessed May 31, 2021.

[2] EEOC. Facts About Sexual Harassment | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Accessed May 31, 2021.

[3] EEOC. What You Should Know: What to Do if you Believe you have been Harassed at Work | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Accessed May 31, 2021.

[4] EEOC. What You Should Know: What to Do if you Believe you have been Harassed at Work | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Accessed May 31, 2021.

[5] EEOC. What You Should Know: What to Do if you Believe you have been Harassed at Work | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Accessed May 31, 2021.

[6] EEOC. What You Should Know: What to Do if you Believe you have been Harassed at Work | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Accessed May 31, 2021.

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