Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious offense. It affects productivity, motivation and morale, and it's illegal. Learn how to report sexual harassment as you protect your coworkers and workplace.

What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers sexual harassment to include several actions.

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical actions that are sexual in nature
  • Offensive remarks about a person's gender
It can happen frequently or only once. The perpetrator can be either gender and hold any job title. Even customers can be sexual harassment victims or perpetrators. 

Why Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

All sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful whether it occurs during a job interview, is perpetrated by the company president or a customer, or happens one time. It's a serious offense, and it's your responsibility to report it.  

How to Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If you're the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace or see it happen, you may feel embarrassed to file a report or worried about repercussions. However, you have the right and responsibility to report any illegal actions using these steps.

Review your employee handbook. It includes the specific protocols on how to report sexual harassment in your workplace.

Report to the right person. Usually, you should report sexual harassment to your supervisor or Human Resources manager, but that person could be the sexual harassment victim or perpetrator. In this case, find a neutral person, ideally a manager or supervisor, in your company and report the harassment in person.

Share details. It's not enough to say that your coworker sexually harassed you. You need to share specific details that allow your employer to investigate the incident and create appropriate consequences. Those details include:  

  • Dates of the harassment
  • Exactly what happened during the incident/s
  • Documents that support your story
  • Witnesses to the incidents
Put your report in writing. Even if you meet with a manager in person, you should still write your report and send it to your employer via email. Ask Human Resources to file a copy in your personnel file, and keep a copy for your personal records, too

Follow up. Your employer must investigate your sexual harassment complaint, and they may include you in the investigation. Be sure to follow up, though. Share any additional details you may have forgotten to include in the original report, and document those additions.  

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. Take it seriously when you use these tips to report sexual harassment in the workplace. Your actions protect yourself, your coworkers and your workplace culture.
Need insurance for You, Your Family or Your Business?
We can match you to a qualified, local insurance expert!
Further Reading
The case of In re: Beth V. Beth V., Appellant, v. New York State Office of Children & Family Services et al., Respondents. Workers' Compensation Board, Respondent was an appeal from a decision by the New York State Workers Compensation Board that...
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and your workplace must be safe for employees, vendors and customers. Make time this month to refresh your understanding of sexual harassment as you prevent sexual assault and create a safe work envi...
By now, employers should all realize and understand that sexual harassment is illegal. However, what employers might not be aware of is that the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings in June of 1998 that expanded what is termed sexual harassment; exp...
Employees are entitled to a safe work environment. Any unwelcome sexual conduct, including slurs, physical assaults or interference with work, is considered harassment and violates federal law. If you or someone you work with is the victim of sexual ...
We’re seeing more teenagers than ever reporting sexual harassment cases. In New York State, a telemarketing company had to pay more than $500,000 in damages and interest to satisfy a claim brought by 13 women, most of whom were teenagers. The manager...