Sexual harassment is defined by the EEOC as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Last year, 12,860 sex-based harassment allegations were made in the U.S., according to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Why Some Victims Wait For Years

Victims of sexual harassment are often too embarrassed or afraid to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, sometimes waiting years to do so.

Keep in mind: In a quid pro quo situation (a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something), a harasser should not be able to terminate an employee for denying sexual advances. The law protects sexual harassment victims from any sort of workplace retaliation, including termination and mistreatment.

Beware: All sexual harassment cases require proof of a hostile environment within the workplace, typically including a formal report. If an employee experiences a hostile environment without reporting it to his or her superiors, the company may claim they weren’t aware of the situation and they won’t be held liable.

If sexual harassment is reported in the workplace and no action is taken, the company may be liable. The victim may have a greater chance of successful litigation if the offending party is a manager or supervisor.

Pursuing legal action against sexual harassment requires proof. The court will need specific documentation of the offending comments or actions. E-mails are a great form of documentation because they are dated and time stamped. Handwritten records are acceptable as long as the date and time are noted.

Standing up for yourself and protecting your right to a safe workplace is not only beneficial to you, it also protects other victims who fear coming forward.

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