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Reporting sexual harassment should not be traumatizing

Letting others know that sexual harassment has taken place at work can be difficult for victims in California. FindLaw explains that one of the most important steps to making the behavior stop, though, is reporting it according to the company's procedures for handling sexual harassment complaints. A company that does not have policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment, or does not follow them, puts the employee in a position to face continued harassment, trauma and retaliation.

The Society for Human Resource Management notes that people in the position to deal with these complaints should take immediate action when someone reports sexual harassment, whether there is a formal, written complaint or not. Every complaint should be considered serious, even if a supervisor feels that the incident is minor, or involves someone he or she would rather not investigate due to popularity or position.

Confidentiality should be a primary component of the company's procedure. Files should be kept secure, and only those involved should know about the accusation and investigation. Typically, though, the identity of the person who files the complaint is revealed to the person being accused. Witnesses may also be involved. 

During the investigation and after, the complainant should not be subject to retaliation from anyone at the company. If sexual harassment is verified, the harasser should be written up, at the very least. For more serious violations, or for repeat offenses, he or she should be terminated. The victim may also be able to press charges or file a lawsuit against the harasser.

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