Sexual harassment consists of statements or actions that are sexually suggestive or initiate a discussion regarding sex. Often, these sexual actions or comments serve to attempt to intimidate the victim to gain power over them in a workplace environment. Sexual harassment can occur between equal-level coworkers or it can occur between coworkers of various levels in the organization. It can consist of touching inappropriately or continually asking a co-worker on a date repeatedly. This is considered discrimination based on sex since the person would not be harassing or bothering the other person but for their sex.
Many times, sexual harassment is not committed in front of other coworkers, but this can occur, especially if the offending party believes that other people will condone, or not complain about the harassment. In some instances, other coworkers or bystanders can assist in protecting a victim from further harassment.
Witnessing Harassment at Work
If you witness harassment at work, you can assist in deterring the harasser by either intervening in the situation or directly calling out the harasser in the moment. Often, it is very difficult for people at work to object to the harassment, since the harasser could be a supervisor.
If the victim is at their desk, you may attempt to call their desk phone or cell phone to create a distraction during the offending interaction to stop the harassment from continuing. If the victim answers the phone in that moment, it can break the flow of the interaction. Interrupting and pulling the victim away from the situation also provides an opportunity to talk to the victim about the issue.
If you can take a direct approach, you can intervene directly and tell the harasser that what they are doing could in fact constitute sexual harassment and sex discrimination. This may or may not stop the behavior.
Making a Complaint About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Regardless of whether the sexual harassment ends, the victim or witness does have the right to complain about sexual harassment in the workplace under federal and state law. Some employers may be too small to make a federal complaint.
Companies should have a process in place regarding who in the organization can receive complaints. If the person who is responsible for handling sexual harassment complaints is the harasser, the victim can complain to a member of management or a supervisor. After a complaint has been made to management, the company is legally on-notice of the complaint.
Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Victims Navigate the Complaint Process
Sexual harassment and discrimination can happen to anyone in the workplace. If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, contact the Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including, but not limited to, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, New Jersey, and New York.