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What can you do if your boss is sexually harassing you?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Employment Law

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of one’s rights, plain and simple. It creates a hostile environment and if you’ve been affected by this reality, it can significantly impact your mental and emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, the situation can feel even more overwhelming if the perpetrator is your boss. However, you are not powerless; there are strategies you can use to navigate this difficult situation as effectively as possible.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is an umbrella term for a wide range of inappropriate behaviors. It can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

Examples can include inappropriate comments about your appearance, unwanted touching, sexual jokes or propositions or pressuring you for dates.

Document everything

The first step in fighting back against sexual harassment in the workplace is to gather evidence. You can start by keeping a detailed record of every incident. Note down the date, time, location and exactly what happened. Remember to include details of the behavior, any witnesses present and your emotional response. You can also save any emails, texts, or voicemails containing harassing content. This documentation becomes crucial evidence if you decide to file a formal complaint.

Report the harassment

Most companies have designated channels for reporting harassment. This could be a human resources representative, an ethics hotline or a supervisor not involved in the situation. While reporting to HR is a common route, remember that they represent the company, not you. Consider having a trusted friend or colleague accompany you for support.

If internal channels fail

If your company fails to address the issue adequately, or you’re uncomfortable reporting internally, you have external options. Consider filing a complaint with Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They can investigate the allegations and potentially take legal action against your employer.

Prioritize your well-being

Dealing with sexual harassment can be emotionally draining. Therefore, you should prioritize your mental and emotional health. You can achieve this by seeking support from friends, family or a therapist. Don’t be afraid to take time off work if needed.

Dealing with sexual harassment from your boss is a difficult situation. However, by taking legal action and seeking support, you can work to protect yourself and hold your employer accountable. Remember, you have rights, and there are people and resources available to help you navigate through this.