10 Tips for Dealing With Harassment in the Workplace

Updated: Mar 24

Harassment can make us feel uneasy and, in the worst-case scenario, unsafe. Here are 10 practical tips to deal with it.

Harvey Weinstein and Roy Price have been in the news lately. It was Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and a slew of other Fox News employees not long ago, and it was Bill Cosby before that.

When a celebrity is caught in the act of harassment, it attracts a lot of attention. However, most cases of harassment, particularly workplace harassment, never make the news. They're all too frequent and have existed for quite some time.

Harassment is defined as any verbal or physical harassment based on a person's gender, religion, or race. It's not just wrong and immoral, but it's also a type of discrimination that's against the law.

Harassing behavior might include things like offensive jokes, slurs, name-calling, physical attacks or threats, intimidation, ridicule, insults, offensive photographs, and more. Any unwelcome statements, acts, or behavior about sex, gender, or sexual orientation is considered sexual harassment.

Ninety percent of all workplace harassment goes unreported. But what happens when you want to make a change? Here are ten helpful hints for properly coping with harassment:

1: Use resources

The first thing you should do is look over your company's employee handbook. You may be able to make an internal complaint through your company's Equal Employment Opportunity officer or another method. If not, you can meet with a counselor at the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about your legal rights, whether or not you decide to file a complaint.

2: Report It

Any harassment should be reported right away. To be legally culpable, your employer must know or have cause to know about the harassment. Tell your boss, a human resources representative, or the person in your company who is in charge of dealing with harassment. If your company has a procedure for reporting harassment, read it ahead of time and make sure you adhere to it as strictly as possible. Either file your report in writing or follow up with a written summary if it was given in a meeting. Any written complaint you make to your employer, as well as any correspondence you receive from them, should be kept on file.

3: Write it Down

Write down everything that happens to you as soon as you are harassed. Record dates, places, timings, and probable witnesses as precisely as possible. When you report, make a list of who you reported to, what they said, and what transpired as a result. Because others may read this written record in the future, be as accurate and objective as possible. Keep the record at home or in another secure location where you will have access to it in the event that something unexpected occurs at work.

4: Talk to Co-Workers

If you aren't the only one who has been harassed, have your coworkers write down and report their own incidences. If you don't feel comfortable doing so, explain that you suspect others have been harassed while filing a report.

5: Keep Records

Your harasser may try to defend himself or herself by criticizing your work performance, especially if you're being harassed by a supervisor. Keep copies of any work-related records, such as performance evaluations and memos or letters that detail the quality of your work. If you don't already have copies, make an effort to obtain them (by legitimate means only). Examine your personnel file if corporate policy allows it. Make copies of any pertinent documents or, if that isn't possible, take thorough notes. Keep everything at home, not at work or on a business computer, like you did with your harassment documents.

6: Find Witnesses

If it is safe to do so, speak with other coworkers who may have observed your harassment. You might be able to identify witnesses, supporters, or others who have been harassed by the same person or who are ready to back up your claim.

7: Get Information

In the initial complaint, make a list of the important persons and situations to look into. Basically, give the investigating office whatever they need to carry out the investigation based on current information.

8: File a Complaint with the EEOC

You can assist protect your safety and a better likelihood of action by submitting a claim of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, especially if you're suspicious of your organization's approach. Before you may sue your company, you must first file a complaint with the EEOC. There are time constraints in place, usually 180 days from the date of the discriminatory act.

9: Stay Focused

Try not to get distracted by the harassment issues, as difficult as it may be. Continue to produce good work and keep detailed records of your performance, as well as harassment and any actions taken in response to it.

10: Get Support from Your Family and Friends

Harassment and its consequences are tough to deal with. Inform supporting friends, family, and coworkers of the abuse. Speaking with others about the harassment can provide much-needed support as well as help you clarify and process everything that has occurred, which may aid your company's investigation or legal case. You don't have to be lonely.

If you believe someone else is being harassed, tell them you support them and encourage them to take these steps. Allow no one to dismiss harassment as innocuous or a normal part of the workplace culture. It is everyone's obligation to combat workplace harassment.

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