EEOC Issues Guidance On “What To Do If You Believe You’ve Been Harassed At Work”

EEOC Issues Guidance on “What to do if You Believe You’ve Been Harassed at Work”

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the Fox News sex harassment scandals, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a guidance aimed to help employees know what steps they can take if they feel they’ve been subjected to work place harassment.

The EEOC suggests the following steps to take if you are a victim of harassment:

1)    If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the person who is harassing you to stop.  

2)    If you do not feel comfortable confronting the harasser directly, or if the behavior does not stop, follow the steps below:

  • Check to see if your employer has an anti-harassment policy.This may be on the employer’s website. If it’s not, check your employee handbook. Finally, you can ask any supervisor (it does not have to be your supervisor) or someone in Human Resources (if your employer has an HR department) whether there is an anti-harassment policy and if so, to give you a copy.
  • If there is a policy, follow the steps in the policy.The policy should give you various options for reporting the harassment, including the option of filing a complaint.
  • If there is no policy, talk with a supervisor.You can talk with your own supervisor, the supervisor of the person who is harassing you, or any supervisor in the organization. Explain what has happened and ask for that person’s help in getting the behavior to stop.
  • The law protects you from retaliation(punishment) for complaining about harassment. You have a right to report harassment, participate in a harassment investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment, without being retaliated against for doing so.

Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates federal and local discrimination laws. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

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