What it is:
Sexual harassment can appear in a number of ways. It can mean unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, verbal or physical harassment that’s sexual, or harassment that’s based on someone’s gender. Sexual harassment is always an issue, but it becomes illegal when it’s so frequent or so severe that it creates a hostile work environment.
How to spot it:
- “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment: making it seem as though your job is contingent on putting up with sexual harassment or giving in to sexual favors. For example, “I’ll hire you if you have sex with me,” or “if you dressed sexier, you’d get a promotion.”
- Hostile work environment: creating an environment that’s difficult to work in due to severe sexual behavior. For example, unwanted touching, kissing, or groping, or comments that are direct and sexual, like “those pants look so great on you, I wish I were those pants.”
How to fight it:
- Don’t be a silent bystander: If you see harassment occurring in your workplace, you can play an essential role in supporting the person targeted by the harasser. The Congressional Office of Compliance suggests following the S-T-O-P protocol if you witness harassment in the office (Stay close to the target so he or she is not alone with the harasser, Take notes to ensure you remember the facts regarding what you witnessed, Offer your support to the victim, Proclaim/report the incident to a supervisor as soon as possible).
- Start a paper trail: If you’re personally experiencing harassment in the workplace, make sure to keep a record of what was said and when. Keep all documents relating to the harassment, like emails or texts, and take notes when the incidents occur. If you decide to report the harassment, this will be crucial for proving your case.
- Report the harassment: Look into your HR policy on how to report the harassment. It may be by speaking to your supervisor or going directly to HR. When you do so, bring copies of all the documentation you have with you.
- Get the facts and learn how to deal with sexual harassment on TIME’S UP’s resource page on sexual harassment. Additional survivor support resources can be found here.
- If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, get help by calling RAINN’s 24-hour hotline at 800-656-HOPE or visit their site.