No one should have to walk into work anticipating sexual harassment from colleagues. In the unexpected situation that it does happen, however, it may not always be instinctual to report it. Many women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment may be hesitating to take immediate action for various reasons, such as fear of retaliation or of losing their job altogether.

Nonetheless, you do not have to tolerate inappropriate behavior. Your company likely has policies that could protect you from harassment, and it is worth knowing your rights. If you believe you have experienced sexual harassment, you may want to consider these possible next steps to help you take action:

  • Review your company’s policy: Refer to your company’s policies to look for any codes that address harassment. If you are reviewing the policies online, you may want to print out a copy and highlight the relevant sections.
  • Reach out to a trusted authority figure: Find someone in your line of authority at work whom you can trust. It can be helpful to discuss the matter with a trusted senior representative who can support you in your official report.
  • Arrange a meeting with human resources: If possible, request a meeting with human resources and invite the authority figure you reached out to. Bring the printed copy of your company’s policy with the highlighted relevant sections to support your complaint. Do not be afraid to ask about how the company will follow up. You may also want to take notes during the meeting, both for your own record as well as to keep the company accountable.

You have the right to protect your safety

Although speaking up may seem like an intimidating decision, keep in mind that you are protected under the law against wrongful termination and retaliation. Consider reaching out to an experienced employment law attorney who can help you determine your rights.

Sexual harassment is a violation of your civil rights, and you have the right to feel empowered in speaking up.