Monday, January 7, 2008

What to do If You Are Sexually Harassed at Work

Sexual harassment in the workplace can affect anyone in any job. While not limited to women, the statistics show that only 15% of charges are filed by males. Sexual harassment destroys the work environment. The anxiety and frustration experienced by victims can impact their quality of life and the quality of their work. Although steps are being taken to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, employers and law agencies cannot always prevent it but they can help victims by responding to complaints and dealing with the violators.

The laws regarding sexual harassment remain vague since what is considered harassment by one individual may not be by another. To that effect, laws are created to protect the victim and knowing your rights can help you face harassers and employers when dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.


According to the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), sexual harassment is defined as "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."

Sexual harassment can be made by members of the same gender and it does not have to be from a person in a position of superiority over the victim. The harasser may be a co-worker or even a non-employee depending on the circumstances.

An individual can file a charge of harassment even if they are not the intended target. Any person who feels affected by the offensive nature of the harassment can make a charge.

Sexual harassment can take many forms. If you feel that your work, emotional or physical safety are being threatened or affected by sexual undertones in the workplace it may be considered harassment. Each case is dealt with individually and companies will have different policies for what they consider to be sexual harassment and how they deal with it.

If the company offers no method of filing a complaint, no investigation is made or no reasonable action is taken against the violator you should file a charge with the EEOC. Charges must usually be filed within 180 days of an alleged violation.


You have the legal right to work in an environment that is free of sexual harassment.

You also have the right not to receive retaliation for making a charge, testifying or participating in an investigation into the charge.


A sexual harassment charge must be filed with the (EEOC) before a private lawsuit can be made. The charge can be filed at an EEOC office or through the mail. You can find information on your nearest office through their website at

Some areas have local agencies called Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) which also deal with claims and work in agreement with the EEOC.

Taking a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace is important for everyone. Helping to identify problems and expose violators will increase awareness of the situation and make the work environment safer for everyone.

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