Sexual Harassment Survival Guide

How do I know if I am being sexually harassed?

Sexual harassment is any conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcomed and is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter one’s work environment. Essentially what this means is if your boss, supervisor, or co-workers are behaving in a sexual manner in the work place, including but not limited to, jokes, texting, remarks, comments about appearance or sexual advances, then they are engaging in sexual harassment. You have a right to a workplace free from sexual harassment.

What do I do if I am being sexually harassed?

1.) Tell the harasser to stop and that the behavior is unwelcomed. You can say “please don’t talk to me like that” or “that makes me uncomfortable.” While it is sometimes hard to say these things, it is important to be clear that the harasser’s behavior is unwelcomed.

2.) Document the harassment – make notes, save text messages, voice mail messages, emails, or email the details to yourself. You are not permitted to record telephone conversations or conversations that you are not a party to.

3.) Obtain company’s anti-harassment policy. This policy might be in a handbook or in the company’s intra-net.

4.) Complain in writing. We recommend using email since it can be proven later when it was sent and who received it. You should be clear and use the words “sexual harassment.” Language like this is recommended:

“Dear Director of HR,

Recently, I have been sexually harassed by __[name]___. This harassment happened on _[date]____. He / she harassed me by __[describe conduct]______. It occurred in ___[place]______. I told him/her to stop several times but he/she keeps doing it. Most recently ___[describe most recent conduct]___.

I would like you to investigate __[name of harasser]___ and get him/her to stop. I like my job and I would like to be able to do it in an environment free from harassment.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email and confirm that you will immediately investigate this complaint.

Thank you.

[Your name]”

Understand that you have the right to make this complaint. Employers may not retaliate against you for doing so. Your employer should not move you to another location (although sometimes this is the response). You should not be put on administrative leave (even with pay) while the investigation is proceeding.

Do not delay in your complaint. Connecticut law requires that complaints of discrimination (sexual harassment is discrimination) be filed with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) within 180 days. If your employer won’t remedy the situation, a complaint needs to be filed to protect your rights. Complaining at work doesn’t count. The complaint must be filed with the CHRO.

If you need advice or help filing your complaint with the CHRO, you can contact the Hayber Law Firm. Click here to contact us.