Being sexually harassed on the job or working in a hostile work environment can make a person feel extremely isolated, embarrassed and scared. Unfortunately, offenders often rely on these emotions and even try to enhance them in an effort to try and keep an employee from filing a complaint.
In fact, there are a few common tactics people use to try to keep a victim of workplace sexual harassment from coming forward.
You might be told that being harassed on the job is to be expected, because that’s “the way it’s always been.” Maybe there is one manager who has always been inappropriate with female workers, or you are told that men have never complained about being touched or propositioned in the workplace because they’ve always liked it. However, just because workplace harassment is pervasive doesn’t make it okay.
You might also be led to believe that you could be demoted or lose your job for filing a sexual harassment complaint. These types of threats may be quite obvious or veiled behind statements of someone “looking out for your best interests,” but the fact is that you cannot be retaliated against for filing a sexual harassment complaint.
Finally, you might also be told you are overreacting or being overly sensitive. Attempting to minimize the misconduct or making you feel like you are the one who should feel badly are common methods of trying to make light of a situation and make a person feel silly or embarrassed for having taken offense. However, unwelcome sexual conduct that is intimidating, offensive or interfering with your job should always be taken seriously.
If these situations sound familiar, you need to know that you are not alone and you have rights as an employee that must be protected, despite what anyone at work might say. In order to assess your options and better understand the steps you can take to protect yourself and your job, it can be crucial to consult an attorney sooner, rather than later.