The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that you, as an employee, have the right to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment based a protected class. Protected classes include: race, color, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, citizenship, familial status, disability, veteran status, genetic information, and sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.
Sexual harassment can occur in many different types of relationships including:
- Peer to peer harassment
- Subordinate harassment of a supervisor
- Supervisor harassment of a subordinate
- Men can be sexually harassed by women
- Women can be sexually harassed by men
- Same sex harassment (men can harass men; women can harass women)
- Third party harassment
Offenders can be supervisors, co-workers, or non-employees, such as customers, vendors, and suppliers.
Reporting sexual harassment can be a very complicated. If you are considering filing a claim, answer the questions below to see if the incident(s) you are experiencing is sexual harassment. When you file a claim, you want to include as much evidence and documentation as possible.
- Does the behavior you experienced fit into a healthy work environment? [Y]/[N]
- When thinking about the incident would you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable to repeat or demonstrate what happen to your supervisor or a person of authority? [Y]/[N]
- Does the incident you experienced meet the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) definition of Sexual Harassment? [Y]/[N]
- Does your experience meet your employer’s policy definition of sexual harassment? [Y]/[N]
*Note, although sexual harassment is personal and open to perception, your experience must fall under the EEOC and agency policy definition of sexual harassment to hold validity.
- Does the behavior and/or conduct fall under any of these categories?
Check all the boxes that apply.
- The behavior is verbal and/or physical [ ]
- Severe or pervasive (also known as hostile environment) [ ]
- The behavior was physically threatening or humiliating. [ ]
- The behavior interferes with your work? [ ]
- A “reasonable person” would consider the behavior offensive, intimidating or unwanted? [ ]
*Note: The “reasonable person standard” is a universal standard. If you don’t know, try to get a non-biased opinion. Consider asking someone you trust about this situation in “hypothetical” terms.
- Have you told your supervisor of the behavior and nothing has changed? [Y]/[N]
- Have you experienced more than one incident? [Y]/[N]
*Note: Make sure to detail, every incident that has occurred with as much information as possible. Time, date, place, witnesses, and what happened.
- Are any of the witnesses willing to stand with you, or even file a joint claim because they are experiencing similar incidents at work (possibly by the same individual)? [Y]/[N]
- If you answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, you are experiencing inappropriate behavior at the workplace. These incidents need to be addressed before they escalate.
- If you answered “yes” to questions 3 and 4, you can consider moving forward.
- If you checked boxes next to statements for question 5, you can consider moving forward with that much more support for your claim.
- If you answered “yes” to questions 6, 7, and 8, this will build the strongest case.
Even if you answered “yes” to all questions, there is no assurance to the outcomes of your complaint, or that the abuser will be removed from the work environment. These questions were created to help you decide what your next step is. If you would like more information about sexual harassment in the workplace contact TMI Action.
Note: Although retaliation for filing a claim is illegal, your company, co-works, or supervisors may subversively or subconsciously engage in the practice. Many victims of sexual harassment openly state that the retaliation they experienced after filing a claim was more severe than the actual harassment.