What to do if you are sexually harassed at work

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can impact both the victim and the perpetrator.

If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed at work, it is important to know what to do to seek justice and protect your rights and wellbeing.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that includes any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.

It is a serious issue that can have a negative impact on an individual’s emotional and physical health, as well as their work.

What to do if you are sexually harassed at work

If you are sexually harassed at work, knowing what to do to protect yourself, and your rights and wellbeing is essential. Here are a few steps you can take if you are sexually harassed at work:

  • Speak up and tell the person harassing you to stop. It is essential to be assertive and make it clear that the behavior is unwelcome.
  • Keep a record of the incidents. Write down what happened, when it happened and any other relevant details.
  • Talk to someone you trust about what is happening. Talking to someone else about what you are experiencing can be helpful.
  • Make a formal complaint. This should start an investigation into the matter.
  • Seek legal help. If you want to take more extreme action, you can consult with an attorney to explore legal options.

Who can you talk to about sexual harassment?

If you are being sexually harassed at work, it is important to tell someone. Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination that is prohibited by law. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your supervisor or human resources department, you can contact an attorney or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). An attorney can help you determine if you have a legal claim and how to proceed. The EEOC will investigate your claim and may file a lawsuit on your behalf.

What are the consequences of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace can have some consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. The victim may experience various negative emotions, including fear, anxiety, and shame. The victim may have difficulty concentrating at work and may require time off from work to recover from the trauma.

The perpetrator may also face consequences, such as losing their job, being suspended from work or being blocked from future employment.

Resources for help

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline which offers free services and confidential support.

Phone: 800-656-4673

Online chat hotline:

Additionally, you should report sexual harassment to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, the EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.

File a charge here:



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