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How to deal with sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace - or anywhere. Yet your right to safety won't deter bad actors from crossing the line. These people can make you feel powerless, threatened and ready to leave your job.

You might feel you cannot improve your situation. But you have options for recourse when you experience sexual harassment at work. Knowing your rights can help you take steps toward ending any harassment directed toward you.

Talk with the perpetrator

You may feel confident addressing your harasser. Or their actions might mark a first-time offense. In these situations, you can let them know how uncomfortable and violated they make you feel. Some harassers have full awareness of their actions. But others might not understand how workplace boundaries have changed in recent years. A blunt and forceful "STOP" might be all it takes for them to correct their behavior. 

Talk with your company

Yet most harassers won't correct their actions based on forceful chats. In this case, you can speak with your company's human resources (HR) department about its sexual harassment policy. By law, they must outline their procedure for reporting sexual harassment. But some employers don't have a sexual harassment policy in place. If yours does not, you can create a plan with your supervisor regarding how to deal with your harasser.

Talk with the law

Some employers flout their sexual harassment policies. Despite any actions you take, your harasser might not face consequences and instead receive a transfer or promotion. They might also wage a campaign of retaliation against you and try to get you fired. While such tactics seem commonplace, they are illegal. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer can help you fight any damage inflicted upon your reputation.

Sexual harassment is a serious matter. Yet many employers treat it with a cavalier attitude. No matter your situation, it's crucial to know your rights to fight it, whether through personal, corporate or legal channels.

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