Q. What should I do if I think I’m being sexually harassed?
If possible tell the person making the comment or touching you that you don’t like the behavior. It is not necessary under the law to do this but it makes common sense that the person can’t stop what they are doing if they don’t know someone doesn’t like it.
Employers should have a sexual harassment policy that tells the employees what to do when they believe they are being sexually harassed. Follow this policy. If your employer does not have a policy then tell your supervisor or someone in management that can stop the behaviors. Human resource personnel are another good option.
Q. Who am I supposed to tell about this unwanted behavior?
The employer is legally responsible for actions that may break the law but only after it knows about them. So telling someone that can stop the unwanted actions is important.
Some examples of the right people to tell are:
• The supervisor
• The operations manager
• Human resource manager
• President or vice-president
If a manager does this type of action then the employer may be liable for the manager’s actions. This is more so if a bad employment decision is made based upon the worker’s refusal.
Q. What should I expect after I inform my employer about things I consider sexual harassment?
The most important thing to expect is for the behavior to stop. If the person behaving in the unwanted manner stops then the employer has done what is expected of them.
The employer should do a thorough investigation of the allegation to determine the facts. This includes detailed statements from everyone involved. They should also find out if there are other ways of confirming the statements. Once all the relevant facts are known the employer should take appropriate action. The least action should be to ensure this type of behavior is stopped and does not happen again.
The employer is not required to tell the person making the complaint what it did to stop the bad actions. Giving the employer enough time to look into the problem and take action is important.
This means if the employer is informed at 9 AM one day expecting the actions to stop that afternoon may not be reasonable. Of course this depends upon what the actions were. If the action is aggressive behavior a few hours notice may be all that is needed to get the action to stop.
It is illegal for an employer to do something unfair to the employee that reports sexual harassment. The employer is expected to treat the claim seriously. The employer should not take bad actions against the person reporting this problem.
Q. Do I have to go back to work after I report sexual harassment?
Once the unwanted behavior stops then yes the employee should go back to work. The employer is still responsible to ensure the safe and non-discriminatory work place.
Q. How often do I have to let someone touch my body (arm, back, etc.) before I tell my boss about it?
No one has to put up with someone else touching them, whether it is once or lots of times. Telling the person touching you that you don’t like it should take care of the problem. But if it doesn’t stop the person tell your supervisor or human resources person immediately.
Q. What do I do if my boss is the one sexually harassing me?
A lot of times employers say to tell a senior manager or their human resource person. If the employer doesn’t have this kind of policy then tell your supervisor’s boss that this kind of action is going on.
If the employer is small and there aren’t many managers then ask for help from the other managers. Someone may be able to talk with the supervisor.
Q. What if I get fired for complaining about sexual harassment?
If someone is fired because they reported actions they thought were sexual harassment then this is called retaliation. Retaliation is an unfair practice under the law. Being treated unfairly after reporting this kind of unwanted action is not okay. Retaliation can result in serious problems for the employer. Contact the Commission or an attorney for further help.