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Report sexual harassment if you've been harassed on the job

When you're working, you have the right to work in an environment that is free of sexual harassment and discrimination. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other kinds of physical conduct or verbal harassment of a sexual nature that is unwanted and unwarranted. These acts are considered sexual harassment when it's made implicit or explicitly stated that submission to the conduct is a term or condition of the continued employment of the individual. It is also sexual harassment if failing to submit to these actions is used as a basis for decisions surrounding employment or causes an unreasonable workplace environment.

What are some examples of hostile work environments?

Some examples of hostile work environments include:

  • Making offensive jokes or telling offensive stories
  • Touching or making unwelcome sexual conduct or advances
  • Offensive drawings, photographs, videos or objects
  • Abusive behavior

The reality of the situation is that harassment has many negative impacts. It is always wrong and can cause harm to co-workers and the targeted individual. In some cases, harassment can lead to financial losses for an employer, which is why employers should do all they can to limit harassment in the workplace when possible.

Why isn't harassment always reported when it should be?

Harassment is not always reported by employees, because they may fear retaliation. Retaliation takes place when the employer or superior to the employee reporting the harassment is treated negatively as a result of their report. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report harassment in any form, whether that's by limiting their opportunities in the workplace or shortening their schedule to force them to look for work elsewhere.

Employees may also not report harassment for other reasons such as worrying about:

  • The damage to their own reputation
  • Humiliation
  • Being blamed for the situation
  • The impact of the claim on their career

Some people may not report sexual harassment because of the disbelief that it happened to them. That's why it's important for employers to have processes in place to help those who may be victims come forward.

If you are harassed on the job, whether it's by a coworker, boss or client, it's important that you report it. If you are retaliated against or face unfair treatment as a result of making a report, then you can file a claim against your employer and those responsible for retaliating against you.

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