Even if you have reason to believe it's a one-time incident, any instance of sexual harassment is one to take seriously. If you let this continue, you're more likely to run into additional problems with the same person in the future.
Here are the steps to take after an instance of sexual harassment:
- Speak your mind: Doing so shows the harasser that their behavior is out of line. You don't have to become violent, aggressive or raise your voice. Instead, explain that they're wrong, and you want them to stop immediately. This may be enough to stop the harassment before it turns into an ongoing issue.
- File a formal complaint: Review your employee handbook for information on how to file a formal complaint of sexual harassment. If you don't find what you're looking for, contact your HR department for guidance.
- File an administrative charge: If your employer doesn't make things right, you can file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the appropriate state agency.
- File a lawsuit: If you're in position to do so, litigation can provide remedies such as back pay, reinstatement and damages for emotional distress.
There is no place for sexual harassment in the workplace. If you're a victim, do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your legal rights.
Along the way, collect evidence backing up your claim, keep track of your progress and make note of all conversations with company representatives. It's not always easy to fight back, but doing so will allow you to feel better about your current situation and the future.