Do you receive unwanted and inappropriate comments from co-workers? Does your boss deny you benefits and promotions for turning down sexual advances? Is there offensive decor in your office? If so, you are the recipient of sexual harassment at work.
You may be unsure of what to do or surprised with yourself for not reacting in the way you thought you would under the circumstances. Those feelings are completely normal; sexual harassment can be traumatic. Do not blame yourself, and consider these three reasons why you should report sexual harassment.
1. It is a big deal
Society has allowed or even encouraged some forms of sexual harassment to happen with no consequence. Therefore, you may believe that when these “lesser” types of sexual harassment occur, it is not a big deal or just part of being a woman. You may think you are overreacting or lack a sense of humor. Stick with your gut feeling: What is going on is not acceptable and deserves disciplinary action.
2. You are not alone
In such a sexist place of employment, you are likely not the only one experiencing harassment. Sometimes all it takes is one woman to shine a light on the darkness for others to join in. By helping yourself, you are also helping the rest of your female colleagues.
3. You have legal protection
Perhaps the biggest reason for your hesitation to come forward is the fear of losing your job or facing revenge from the responsible parties. You may think it is better to suffer in silence than to be unemployed or working in an even more hostile environment. However, the law protects you from retaliation for speaking out, whether or not you win your case. Even if you willingly quit, you can still hold your employer responsible for sexual harassment and/or a hostile workplace.
If you still feel uncomfortable reporting it, that is OK. Be aware that there is a statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit, so it is wise to speak to an attorney about your options. You do not have to go any further, and your employer will not know about the discussion.