Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual act against an employee. This treatment can make you uncomfortable and afraid. A man or a woman may suffer from sexual harassment committed by a coworker, supervisor, or boss. A person of the same sex or opposite sex may commit sexual harassment. Often workers fear that they will lose their job, earn less money, or be mistreated if they complain. It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for rejecting sexual harassment or for filing a sexual harassment complaint (see page 18 for more information on retaliation). The following is a list of some of the behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment:
• Unwelcome touching
• Vulgar remarks
• Requests or demands for sex
• Promises of job benefits based on sexual favors
• Threats of firing for rejecting sexual demands or requests
• Sexual Assault
What should I do if someone sexually harasses me?
• Tell the harasser NO and that the actions are not welcome.
• Keep records of the date and the type of harassment when it happens (you can use the notes section in the back of this booklet).
• Report it to your bosses (or the person named in the company policy) using the company's internal complaint process.
• If there is no complaint process, you should still report the harassment to your supervisor (or someone else with authority at the company) and to federal, state, or local offices that protect employees from discrimination. You can call our office to get the phone numbers for an office near you.
• If you are the victim of a crime, like rape, notify the police as soon as possible.
When Guadalupe began having problems with her supervisor where she was working, she felt she did not have anywhere to turn. The supervisor would say sexual things to her and ask her to have sex with him. He would kiss her and touch her against her wishes. His treatment got worse and worse, until he even became violent and threatened her at knife-point. She was scared and did not know what to do. As far as she knew, the company did not have a process that she could use to file a complaint about sexual harassment. She is from Mexico and did not know a lot about US law. She did not know how to make her supervisor stop, and she could not work under such terrible conditions. Eventually she left her job because she felt she had no other choice. When she learned about her legal rights, she filed a complaint for sexual harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After the agency investigation, she sued the company in court. Eventually, she reached a confidential settlement with the company, and believes that the company will treat other women better in the future, as a result of her case.