The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as follows: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment” if it impacts your job, hampers your ability to do your job or creates an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive” atmosphere. With all this in mind, you may feel that you are the target of sexual harassment at work in California. What can you do about it?
The first thing to do is figure out whether the offensive behavior actually constitutes sexual harassment under the law. There are many different kinds of sexually harassing actions or comments. Here are just a few typical ones: making remarks about a person’s appearance, talking about sex, ogling someone, following a person, crude talk of a sexual nature, inappropriate touching or threatened retaliation for rejecting sexual overtures.
You may fear jeopardizing your job or being negatively affected in some other way if you complain, especially if the harasser is senior to you. There are some basic steps you can take.
How to handle sexual harassment on the job
- Keep a record of all sexually harassing incidents. Include as much detail as possible, such as exact dates and quotes.
- Clearly tell your harasser that the conduct you are being subjected to is definitely not welcome.
- Think about looking for a new job if you prefer not to report the harassment.
There are numerous avenues to use if you do decide to make a complaint.
- Report it to the police if it involves sexual assault.
- Find out how to proceed in accordance with the procedures of your company. Consult your employee handbook.
- See if your union can assist you.
- Consider filing a lawsuit.
- Make a claim with the EEOC or the appropriate state or local agency.
Making a formal complaint or lawsuit against a sexual harasser can be a complex process. Knowing your legal rights may help you figure out how to move forward.