Defend Your Rights At Work
  1. Home
  2.  | 
  3. Sexual Harassment
  4.  | Are you afraid to report sexual harassment at work?

Are you afraid to report sexual harassment at work?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

By now, almost everyone knows, or should know, that it is illegal to sexually harass someone in the workplace. Unfortunately, many California employees continue to be victims of sexual harassment, sometimes from their own bosses.

When you are a victim of sexual harassment, you might keep it to yourself, afraid of the potentially negative consequences of speaking up. You may worry about being fired, demoted or treated differently because you are now viewed as a “problem worker.”

You should not be worried to report being the victim of sexual harassment at your workplace, but it is understandable if you are. Reporting sexual harassment to human resources or to a manager can be difficult and overwhelming.

However, you are protected from sexual harassment under the law. Sexual harassment is illegal under federal law.

Know the types of sexual harassment

There are many different forms of sexual harassment. The harassment can be physical or verbal and can include requests for sex or simply making offensive comments.

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone. The victim can be a man or a woman and the harassment can occur between the same or different sexes.

Before you report sexual harassment, review any employee handbooks to learn the policy for reporting harassment. Follow the policy instructions.

Keep everything in writing. Even if your employer’s sexual harassment policy states that the report can be verbal, keep a written record. Write down who you told, what you said, when you told them and what their response was.

What to expect in an investigation

Be prepared for an investigation, which will likely not be short. Investigations into sexual harassment complaints can take days, weeks or longer to complete.

Cooperate with the investigation and answer all questions honestly. Do not be afraid to identify the harasser or anyone else who witnessed the harassment.

This can be hard if the harasser is your boss or manager, but your employer cannot do anything to stop the harassment if you do not tell them the identity of the person harassing you.

Additionally, if you do not report the harassment to the right person and follow instructions, your employer may not be legally responsible for the harassment.

Although it might be difficult, prepare yourself to describe the harassment in explicit detail. Again, this could be awkward and embarrassing, but remember that you are the victim and your rights deserve protection.

You are protected against retaliation

The law protects you from retaliation from reporting the sexual harassment. You cannot be fired or experience any adverse employment action because of reporting the harassment.

Generally, one isolated incident may not be enough to be considered sexual harassment. But when the situation becomes so serious and harassment happens so often to create a hostile work environment, something should be done about it.