The following are 4 keys to better understanding sexual harassment in the workplace. It's important to understand the process of filing a sexual harassment complaint so that you can maintain control of the situation and make more confident decisions.
- Understanding sexual harassment: Make your complaint in writing.
Sexual harassment cases are unfortunately 'he said, she said' scenarios most of the time. That's why it's so important to keep a written record of all encounters and to start keeping it early. Sexual harassment cases usually escalate as time goes on. It's important for a victim to first try and communicate with their harasser. This communication is best through email. Email will keep a solid record for you. The email then needs to address two key issues. First, the victim must state precisely what the other person has done to make them feel uncomfortable and second, they must explicitly tell them to stop that conduct.
- Understanding sexual harassment: If the unwelcome conduct persists, file a complaint with H.R.
You may not want to complain to your boss about the sexual harassment issue. Your boss may be the person you're having the issue with! File a written complaint with someone your comfortable with, but also someone with the authority to take action. This may be easy if your company has a Human Resources department you can visit. If they don't, find your company's employee handbook, and lookup who it says to speak to.
- Understanding sexual harassment: Make sure you trust the person you file your complaint with.
When you file a complaint with H.R. they will request permission to look further into the situation. This may involve interviewing your coworkers, your supervisors, and the harasser. They may look into your work email for records of communication with your harasser. They may look into your personal records as well. H.R. will need to conduct a thorough investigation. They will not want to hurt anyone's reputation without evidence.
It's important that you feel that the H.R. person is unbiased. If you don't feel that way, you may want to seek assistance from someone else in the company or a outside adviser.
- Understanding sexual harassment: Think of the possible outcomes of the complaint.
There's a strong possibility that after the investigation into your complaint the company either finds the investigation inconclusive or they let the harasser off with a warning. Be prepared to face that person even after the investigation is over. They might be transferred within the company to another department or they may stay within your department and have to go through additional training.
Despite these results being a possibility, filing the complaint is critical. If another person in the company files a complaint against that same person, it'll be taken that much more seriously because there was already a complaint filed against them in the company's records.
Most importantly, though, don't let this situation control your life. Don't let fear overwhelm you. Take time to think about each and every step of the process. Speak with an outside professional, such as an attorney, if you still have questions or if you feel you aren't being taken seriously.