On behalf of California Employment Counsel, APC on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

Unwelcome touches, offensive emails or persistent advances are only a few ways in which an employee may feel sexually harassed on the job. Whether these or other behaviors occur once or on a regular basis, you want to have confidence that your employer will take you seriously if you bring it to his or her attention. Too often, complaints about sexual harassment are ignored at best and become the object of retaliation at worst.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not something new. Fortunately, recent media attention on the issue has brought about many positive changes, not only in the way employers deal with complaints about harassment but also in ways businesses of all sizes have taken steps to prevent these events from occurring.

Does your boss discourage harassment?

Unless you actually file a complaint, you may not know for certain if your employer will support your claims of sexual harassment and take appropriate action. However, there are some indicators that an employer is serious about protecting the wellbeing of his or her staff and establishing an atmosphere that demands mutual respect, including these:

  • Insisting employees use each other’s names instead of terms of endearment, such as “honey”
  • Discouraging employees from having conversations about sex or telling off-color jokes
  • Restricting the use of profanity and unsavory language
  • Prohibiting the display of offensive or explicit pictures or other material, whether in print or electronically
  • Providing and reinforcing training on appropriate workplace behavior
  • Establishing a protocol for reporting harassment, informing all employees of the steps to take and following through with all complaints

Once your employer receives a complaint about harassment on the job, you would expect him or her to follow the policies for investigating the claim and handling it appropriately. A vigilant employer will also observe his or her workers as much as possible and be aware of the signs that harassment may be occurring.

You may be in the uncomfortable position where your employer does not take your complaints seriously, or your boss is the person who is harassing you. If you find you are unable to obtain satisfactory attention for your complaints, you may have to step to the next level. In fact, reaching out to a sexual harassment lawyer from the beginning may provide you with solid advice for the most appropriate steps to take to ensure your rights are protected and you have a safe environment in which to do your job.