Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive and damaging issue that affects millions of people every year. According to a study conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), approximately 75% of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported. This staggering statistic highlights the need for greater awareness and action when it comes to addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Not only can sexual harassment have a detrimental impact on the victim’s mental and emotional well-being, but it can also lead to decreased productivity, increased turnover rates, and a hostile work environment. If you witness sexual harassment at work, it is imperative you know how to handle it.
Our article guides you through the process. Keep reading to learn what to do if this situation occurs.
Recognize the Signs of Sexual Harassment
The first step in addressing sexual harassment at work is to recognize the signs. The signs of sexual harassment can take many forms—unwanted touching, sexual jokes or comments, leering, and requests for sexual favors.
Sexual harassment can be verbal, physical, or visual. If you witness any of these behaviors in the workplace, taking action is critical.
If you witness sexual harassment at work, speak up. Let the perpetrator know that their behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately. Let the victim know that you support them and are there to help.
If the victim is uncomfortable speaking up, offer to do so on their behalf. Tell the higher-ups in your company right away. This will ensure that the proper course of action is taken.
Report the Incident
You want to hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions. That is why it is essential to report the incident right away.
The sexual harassment laws in New Jersey state that you can report an incident to your employer without fear of retaliation. Who should you report to exactly? You can report to a supervisor or human resources. If that doesn’t work, it might be time to consider a retaliation attorney.
Document the Incident
Unsure of how to report sexual harassment? You can start by acting as a journalist or news reporter.
Write down the date, time, and location of the incident. Jot down any witnesses who were present. If possible, take photos or videos of any physical evidence. This includes screenshots or images of objects.
Support the Victim
As noted, you’ll want to support the victim. It is essential to their recovery.
Let them know that you believe them and are there to help. Encourage them to seek medical attention if necessary. They could also speak with a therapist or counselor.
If the victim decides to pursue legal action, offer to accompany them to meetings with lawyers or law enforcement.
Take Care of Yourself
It can be an easy thing to forget, but when you witness sexual harassment at work, you want to be sure to take of yourself too. This is because witnessing sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience.
Be sure to seek support from friends and family. You, too, could consider seeking talk therapy or a counselor.
It is also important to take steps to prevent retaliation from the perpetrator. For example, you could change your work schedule or contact the police if necessary.
Know Your Rights
Sexual harassment laws differ from state to state. That is why it is imperative to understand the sexual harassment laws in New Jersey as an employee.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. The law applies to all employers in New Jersey with one or more employees, regardless of their industry or size.
Understand the Consequences
For both the victim and the perpetrator, sexual harassment at work can have serious consequences.
The victim may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and insomnia. This is all in addition to any emotional distress they may endure.
The perpetrator may face disciplinary action, including termination, and may be subject to civil or criminal charges.
Be Prepared for the Investigation
When you report sexual harassment at work, your employee is required by law to investigate the incident.
This investigation may involve interviews with the victim, the perpetrator, and any witnesses. It is important to prepare yourself for the investigation by documenting any relevant information and being available to provide a statement if needed.
Take Action Against Retaliation
As stated, New Jersey law protects against retaliation. Unfortunately, it does happen, as it is not uncommon. If you experience retaliation, such as a demotion or firing, it is important to take action.
Our team is here for you if you face retaliation in the workplace.
After you have reported the incident, it is important to follow up with your employer to ensure that appropriate action has been taken. Ask your employer about the steps they have taken to investigate and address the harassment and whether any action has been taken against the perpetrator.
Advocate for Change
If you witness sexual harassment at work, it is a sign that there are underlying issues within your workplace that need to be addressed. Advocate for change by speaking up about the incident, joining or starting an employee resource group, and advocating for policies and procedures that prevent harassment and create a safer workplace for all.
Know How to Handle Sexual Harassment at Work
If you witness sexual harassment at work in New Jersey, it is important to know what steps you can take to support the victim and address the issue. By understanding the law, cooperating with the investigation, and maintaining confidentiality, you’ll protect yourself and your co-workers.
While no one wants to go through this situation, you now know how to handle it properly. Contact our attorneys to arrange a free initial consultation.