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6 things to know if you are sexually harassed at work

Sexual harassment at work is something that no worker should ever have to deal with. You have the right to a workplace that is free of harassment and that isn't hostile. Employees who have to deal with sexual harassment at work can take steps to stop the unfair treatment and rectify the issues.

#1: Sexual harassment doesn't have to be physical

Sexual harassment doesn't encompass only physical touching. Having to hear or view sexually explicit content and similar actions are all sexual harassment. The workplace should be free of sexual innuendos, actions and similar points.

#2: The harasser doesn't have to be a supervisor

Sexual harassment doesn't have to involve a supervisor. Sexual harassment can be at the hands of a co-worker, client, vendor or anyone else with whom you come into contact while performing your job duties as required by the employer. The employer must ensure the entire workplace is free of harassment. This even applies to people who provide home health care in clients' homes and those who travel for work.

#3: A plan must be in place to report sexual harassment

Each employer must have a plan for reporting sexual harassment. This must be clearly outlined in accordance with federal law. Typically, you would report the actions to a supervisor or human resources representative. If the person who should take the complaint is a party to the harassment, you can report the incident to another person.

#4: You can file a complaint without retaliation

Many employees worry about retaliation and won't make complaints about sexual harassment. Employers can't retaliate against an employee who files a truthful complaint about sexual harassment. Demotions, pay cuts and similar actions are all retaliatory measures.

#5: You don't have to be the subject of the harassment

You can file a sexual harassment complaint, even if you are only a witness. This includes if you see a person harassing another or if you hear people making sexually explicit jokes. You can even make a complaint if you see a sexually explicit picture or receive a sexually explicit message.

#6: You can take legal action

Legal action is possible in sexual harassment cases. You also have legal options if your employer retaliates against you for making a complaint about the sexual harassment. Learning your options right now can help if you ever have this situatio n occur.

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