Knowing how to deal with sexual harassment at work is extremely difficult. Usually there are no witnesses, as harassers are clever enough to keep their activities private, and they know that what they are doing is wrong. That's partly why it's so important to learn how to deal with sexual harassment, so that the perpetrator doesn't keep getting away with it. So what can you do if you find yourself on the receiving end? It's best to take action, so here are some tips on dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace …
1. Keep a Diary
The first point on how to deal with sexual harassment at work is to keep a record of every incident and conversation. On its own, a diary isn't proof, but it will help support your case, and it will also help you remember everything that has happened. Leave it to memory, and you will probably forget important points.
2. Speak to a Manager
You should also speak to your immediate manager about your concerns. If they do nothing (or if they are the one harassing you), then go to the person above them. Don't let them dismiss your complaint; insist that they take action and show them all the information you have kept.
3. You Don't Have to Tolerate It
Sexual harassment is like any other form of bullying: the perpetrator gets away with it because people don't stand up to them. Learning how to deal with sexual harassment at work depends on knowing your rights and standing up for yourself. So remember that you do NOT have to put up with this behaviour - it is not part of the job description. You can, and should, fight back, or it will happen to others.
4. Are There Others?
When you need to know how to deal with sexual harassment at work, it's helpful to have support. Try to find out if any of your colleagues are also being harassed, and encourage them to document incidents and report them. The more people who report such behaviour, the more plausible the case.
5. Union Rep
If you are a member of a union, then speak to your union representative. Remember that this is why you pay your subscription, so that they can protect your interests and welfare. If you are not a member, and there is a union at your workplace, it may well be worth joining so that you can seek their assistance.
6. Be Firm
Every time that the harasser bothers you, make it very clear that their behaviour is unwelcome and unacceptable. Even in the 21st century, sexual jokes may still be seen by some as "innocent" fun, and you will be criticised for not taking it as a joke. Stand your ground and say every time that you want it to stop.
7. Keep Calm
When you are wondering how to deal with sexual harassment at work, it is important to keep calm. Be firm, but don't lose your temper, or it will be very easy for the harasser to attempt to put you in the wrong. If there is any touching involved, tell them very loudly to remove their hands. You must take care not to appear in the wrong at all, so never get physical, however tempting it is.
8. Avoid Harasser
It's also helpful to try to avoid your harasser as much as possible. This may be difficult if it's someone you work closely with, but if you can keep away from them, you reduce their opportunities to hassle you. It's possible that this may stop the problem, although you should still keep a record of any previous incidents.
Unfortunately sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere is not a thing of the past, so if you find yourself on the receiving end you will have to deal with the issue, however unpleasant it is. Chances are that the problem won't just go away by itself, so you will have to take steps to deal with it. Have you had experience of how to deal with sexual harassment at work, and what did you do to stop it?