If you believe you are being sexually harassed at work, these are recommended steps to follow:
- Be assertive. Say no and mean no. Remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible by leaving the room or seeking out other people. If contact with the offender is unavoidable, ask another person to accompany you and arrange meetings in open places.- When reporting the incident, either directly to the perpetrator - if safe - or to a company official, be sure to use the person's name aloud. This method clearly identifies the perpetrator.
- Report sexual harassment first to a supervisor or manager. If the perpetrator is a manager, report the incident to your company's human resources department.
After these procedures are followed, if no appropriate action is taken contact a private attorney or a state or federal civil-rights group.
- When reporting an incident, clearly describe the behavior.
- State clearly what it is that you want to have happen; for example, having the behavior cease, or requesting that the person be relocated.
- State when you want the situation to stop. For example, if a person has sexually offensive materials hanging on the wall above his or her desk for all who walk by to see, state when you want that individual to take down the material.
- After these steps have been followed, a more assertive act is to state what positive consequences will happen to the perpetrator if the sexual harassment stops, or the negative results if it continues.
- Always document sexually offensive and harassing incidents and behavior away from the job. For example, keep a journal in a safe place away from the office (for example, a safe deposit box), or on the same day as the harassing incident, send the signed documentation to your home via registered mail.
- When documenting an incident, include witnesses or any managerial individual or department official you reported the harassment to.
- Know the specifics of your company's sexual harassment policy. Keep it handy. Also understand your district's harassment laws, and the federal law outlining sexual harassment.
Sources: Carol Guttenberger of the Excellence Institute, and Courtney Weiss of Toledo's Unison Behavioral Health Group Inc.