Harassment at Work - Here’s what to do

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Have you been experiencing workplace harassment? You might even be confused about where to draw the line between tough management and harassment. People in this kind of situation often blame themselves to be delusional or paranoid. They give their superiors the benefit of the doubt and convince themselves that it’s just a tough environment. But the truth is, harassment in a workplace is nothing new.

Keeping this in mind, a majority of people claim to have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. According to surveys, about half of women say they've experienced sexual harassment at work. However, just 5 to 15 percent of those files a complaint, as they fear persecution for voicing their concerns.

In the light of the #MeToo moment, many actors and politicians are now facing sexual-harassment allegations on social media. Many of them were immediately fired from their networks and are denied work throughout the industry. Many big stars like Harvey Weinstein and Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey were kicked out of every project they were signed on. It’s tragic to see such big names, who were once respected throughout the film industry are now considered sex predators.

But in actual courts, such cases filed by an employee against and their employer are often dismissed. In the eyes of law, the standard for harassment is quite high. As a matter of fact, a mere 3 percent to 6 percent of these cases ever make it to trial.

According to a report, many women have come forward with experiences of ‘groping’ at the workplace, but such cases are immediately dismissed as it is not considered ‘sexual harassment’ in the eyes of the law.

After dismissing a case of sexual harassment by an employer towards a construction worker, the judge reasoned that the 20 reported incidents took place over a period of 10-days, which is considered ‘too short’ a period of time to measure up as "pervasive." That being said, many incidents which occurred over longer periods, were also dismissed by judges on the account of being ‘too irregular’ to be pervasive.

We at YourSafeHub give excellent advice about what to do in that situation. One of the most important things employees need to take into account is that they must give sufficient time to their employer to correct the situation.

To explain how important this is, let’s consider a recent case that involved a receptionist that was sexually harassed by her employer. In less than 4 hours, he sent her about 72 inappropriate text messages. She had all the reason to file a lawsuit. Despite being in possession of all the evidence, she lost the case.

The reason? because she quit the job right away after she complained of sexual harassment in the workplace. The court found that there was inadequate time for her employer to have rectified the situation. So, even though the case was considered ‘pervasive’, the judge reasoned that the employer was deprived of the chance to correct his mistake. Hence, the receptionist's claims were dismissed.

There are many redressals for people who have been sexually harassed. There is, however, absolutely no alternative for legal advice that is specific to your situation.

Here are some measures that can help:

  • Gather as much proof against the ‘harasser’ as you can. Make sure you don’t leave anything out in your complaint to the human resources.
  • File the complaint in writing. Make sure you call it a ‘Formal Complaint’ regarding ‘racism/sexism/discrimination’. Doing that would eliminate the scope of your concern being disregarded. Also, they cannot claim later, that you just raised your voice against minor bullying in the workplace.
  • Remember, you must give sufficient time to their employer to correct the situation before resorting to legal action.
  • Demand for an anonymous complaint portal from your employers if you don’t already have one in your organization. You never know who else might be going through the same thing in your company as employees often fear persecution for voicing their concerns. Implement YourSafeHub in your organization, a special communication channel that protects employees with the power of anonymity.

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