What to do if you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace
While the still-unfolding Harvey Weinstein story reveals a culture of sexual harassment that has long been tolerated within the entertainment industry, the problem goes far beyond famous studio moguls.
The federal government and many states recognize various types of sexual harassment as illegal because it is a form of sex discrimination, and it is denial of an employee’s right to enjoy equal employment opportunity. Data shows that there were 11,364 sexual harassment claims filed with federal and state agencies in 2011 – 84.7 percent of them by women.
Harassment can create a "hostile work environment" in which the victim feels intimidated or uncomfortable and can’t perform her job duties well.
- Long-term depression, often accompanied by feelings of self-doubt and self-blame
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2009 study in the journal Law and Human Behavior had an astonishing finding: women in the military who are sexually harassed are up to four times as likely to develop PTSD as women exposed to a traumatic event in combat.
- High blood pressure
- Sleep problems
- Neck Pain
In a blog post written for Wrap, "What to Do If You Face Sexual Harassment at Work" attorneys Gloria Alred and Christina Cheung offer people advice about the steps they should take if they are sexually harassed at work by employers, supervisors or co-workers:
- Document inappropriate comments or behavior, including date and location. Take photos of offensive visuals.
- Save e-mails, texts, photos, voicemails and any other evidence of sexual harassment.
- Tell the harasser to stop in an assertive way.
- If you are sexually or physically assaulted, file a police report immediately.
- Consult your company’s employee handbook to see who would handle sexual harassment complaints. Send that person a detailed email about the harassment.
- If you experience retaliation after your sexual harassment complaint, complain in writing about the retaliation.
If the harassment continues or is not addressed, you may want to contact an employment law firm that specializes in sexual harassment matters.
Keep in mind, says Alred and Cheung: many states have statutes of limitations for pursuing sexual harassment claims, so don’t wait too long.