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Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment used to be the dirty little secret Missouri workers had to put up with in order to keep their jobs. Fortunately, there are now laws in place to protect workers, yet this practice still occurs in some companies and on job sites.

Sometimes, it's simple ignorance of the law that permits the unwelcome behaviors. Other times, it can be more insidious. Below are some suggestions for workers to effectively deal with sexual harassment in the workforce.

  • Speak directly to your harasser. When co-workers or supervisors make lewd or inappropriate remarks, ask that they stop the harassing behavior. If they continue, tell them you will report another instance of the harassing behavior . . . and follow through.
  • Identify others who were likewise victimized. Sexual harassment is usually not an isolated instance. Identifying others who complained in the past and securing their agreement to testify to that can bolster your claim.
  • Notify your supervisor of all incidents in a written complaint, with dates, times and details of the harassment. Ask for a face-to-face meeting and keep a copy of the written complaint.
  • If your company has a human resources manager, they should also receive a copy of the complaint you give your supervisor. They can explain other available options at their disposal with you.
  • If all of your complaints fall on deaf ears or if it is your supervisor doing the harassment, formally complain to senior management. Everything should be clearly documented, including the steps you have already tried to take to correct the problem.
  • If despite all your attempts to resolve the situation, the harassment continues or you are retaliated against, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate. They will need the company name, the harasser(s)'s name and all pertinent details.
  • Pending the EEOC's investigation, you may have the right to file suit against the company and your harassers. A Missouri employment law attorney can offer guidance for you during this process.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Seven Ways to Deal With Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," Rose Johnson, Demand Media, Dec. 17, 2014

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