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Helping yourself to minimize the damage of harassment

Any kind of California workplace discrimination or harassment can make people feel like they have no control over their situation. Sexual harassment is especially deplorable conduct that can change your life. When someone in a position of authority invades your personal space, it can make you feel humiliated and powerless.

You may not want to report harassment if you fear retaliation and even a threat to your job, making you feel boxed in. Will it get worse? Will my supervisor believe me? Am I going to lose my job if my supervisor won’t stand by me?

Give yourself back the control you feel you have lost. One simple but empowering step is to note dates and details of all occurrences. Another is to educate yourself. Understanding your situation and options will clarify what needs to be done next. Look into the following important items:

  • Read up on your company’s policy on sexual harassment.
  • Find out if your company has a designated person who handles harassment.
  • If you are directed to speak to your immediate supervisor but you don’t feel comfortable doing so, go to their supervisor, and so on up the chain.
  • Look into the laws that protect workers in harassment situations.

There are laws in place to protect and defend victims of sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act provide relief against any harassment that make an employee feel uncomfortable, partly including:

  • A quid pro quo situation, for example, job advancement in exchange for personal attention or a sexual act
  • Jokes or comments of a sexual nature, whether directed to the employee or discussed in their presence
  • Physical contact of any kind

Since more employees have come forward and registered their complaints, perpetrators are not able to get away with harassment like in the past. If you have been a victim, meeting with an employment law attorney could help you determine what options you might have.

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