Should I Talk to HR About Sexual Harassment?
Experiencing sexual harassment at work is in itself very unsettling. It can feel even more uncomfortable to talk about it with Human Resources at your workplace. If you are worried about being fired or other retaliation, it can be even more terrifying to talk about the harassment. Should you even talk to HR about the harassment? You must know your rights in the workplace.
Is It Sexual Harassment?
Before making a report, you will want first to evaluate the situation. Does the conduct rise to the level of being sexual harassment? One off-hand joke in moderately bad taste may not be enough to be considered sexual harassment. To be regarded as sexual harassment, the conduct needs to be unwelcome, and either severe or pervasive.
For example, a co-worker keeps making sexual jokes or comments towards you, even after being asked to stop would be considered sexual harassment. If the coworker only made one comment it might not be. Sexual harassment can take many forms: unwanted touching, sexual advances, inappropriate conversations in the workplace, having business meetings at strip clubs, etc. If you are unsure if it rises to the level of sexual harassment, talk with an employment attorney.
Should I Report Sexual Harassment to HR?
It should be made clear that HR is there to protect the business, not you. There are caring HR professionals who will try to help employees with sexual harassment. However, when you start exploring legal options, they will be forced to choose sides. They will always choose the company’s interests.
Once HR receives your complaint, they will conduct an internal investigation. You and the harasser will be questioned, as well as any witnesses. They will look at emails, text messages, and interviews. At some point, they will decide whether to believe you or the alleged harasser.
It is crucial to report sexual harassment right away and in writing if possible. Sexual harassment often occurs behind closed doors when there are no witnesses. Creating a record of the harassment is important to protecting you from retaliation. It may also protect you for being harassed again by the individual.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, contact the Law Offices of Tanya Gomerman. Call 415-545-8608 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case.