If you face sexual harassment at work, you have a number of options. The suggestions in the following list provide guidelines for dealing with this abuse.

1. If the harassment includes actual or attempted rape or assault, you can file criminal charges against the perpetrator.

2. If the harassment has stopped short of attempted rape or assault, consider confronting the person who is harassing you. State in clear terms that what he or she is doing is clearly sexual harassment, that you will not tolerate it, and that if it continues, you will file charges through appropriate channels. You may prefer to document what has occurred and your response to it in a letter directed to the harasser (keep a copy). In such a letter, you should include specific details of previous incidents of harassment, your unequivocal rejection of such inappro­priate overtures, and your intent to take more serious action if they do not stop immediately.

3. If the offender does not stop the harassment after direct verbal or written con­frontation, or both, it may be helpful to discuss your situation with your supervi­sor or the supervisor of the offender, or both.

4. If neither the harasser nor the supervisor responds appropriately to your concern, you may want to gather support from your coworkers. You may discover that you are not the only victim in your company. Discussing the offense with sympathetic women and men in your workplace may produce sufficient pressure to terminate the harassment. Be very sure of your facts, though, because such actions could result in a slander lawsuit.

5. If your attempts to deal with this problem within your company are unsuccess­ful or if you are fired, demoted, or refused promotion because of your efforts to end harassment, you can file an official complaint with your city or state Human Rights Commission or with the Fair Employment Practices Agency (the names may vary locally). You can also ask the local office of the federally funded EEOC to investigate the situation.

6. Finally, you may wish to pursue legal action to resolve your problem with sex­ual harassment. Lawsuits can be filed in federal courts under the Civil Rights Act. They can also be filed under city or state laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Moreover, a single lawsuit can be filed in a number of juris­dictions. A person who has been a victim of such harassment is most likely to receive a favorable court judgment if she or he has first tried to resolve the problem within the company before going to court. A number of legal deci­sions, including one made by the U. S. Supreme Court in 2004, have revealed that an employer may successfully defend against liability if a plaintiff does not seek relief from harassment by pursuing the employer’s established sexual harassment grievance procedure (Mink, 2005). •

When an employee files a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC, the employer or supervisor who is named in the claim may retaliate against the employee in a number of ways, such as by writing poor performance evaluations or transferring the employee to another position with less status, pay, or benefits. Such retaliatory actions are clear violations of Title VII, and retaliation charges are the fastest-growing body of claims processed by the EEOC, resulting in the recovery of $124 million in 2007 alone (Silver – glate & Paskievitch, 2008).

U. S. businesses are becoming increasingly sensitive to the issue of sexual harass­ment in the workplace, in part because of the damage to morale and productivity caused by such behaviors but also because of court decisions that have awarded large sums of money to victims (Elkins et al., 2008; Patrick, 2011). Because Title VII imposes liability on companies for sexual harassment perpetrated by their employees, many corporations have implemented programs designed to educate employees about sexual harassment (Stout, 2011).

Nevertheless, despite these programs in business and in the military services, many women still keep silent when they have been harassed (Bruns & Bruns, 2005). They do so for many reasons, including a desire to protect their career (Becker, 2000) and the fear that formal reporting will not be helpful, may lead to retaliation, and could lead to their being negatively evaluated by others (Marin & Guadagno, 1999; Silverglate &

Paskievitch, 2008).

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