After the Harvey Weinstein scandals and the growing power of the #MeToo movement, people are becoming more aware of sexual harassment and taking aim to stop it. Sexual harassment can happen anywhere, but it is common in the workplace, where people spend eight or more hours together every day.
Some employers provide no training on sexual harassment. Many do not care and allow it to happen, causing tension among coworkers. In some cases, harassment is so pervasive that it affects the victim physically and mentally. Many people even quit their jobs.
However, sexual harassment can stop with you. Whether you are a victim or a bystander, here is how to stop harassment at work.
What can You do to Minimize Workplace Discrimination and Harassment?
Preventing harassment in the workplace means being proactive. Ignoring it only makes it worse. Here are some ways to stop it for good.
- Defuse the situation. If you witness harassment and are too scared to speak up, do something to cause a distraction. For example, this may mean spilling a drink on the offender. You may also want to step in and take the victim out of the situation. Sit with the person at their desk or in the breakroom. Take them outside and go for a walk.
- Respond to the offense appropriately. If the person is making crude remarks, say something like “That’s offensive. Nobody wants to hear that.” That will hopefully shut down the offender and end the offensive behavior. If the person is doing something that is truly making the victim feel uncomfortable, remove the person from the situation and let management know right away.
- Talk to the victim privately. Let the person know that you are concerned about how they are feeling and that you want to take action, even if the victim wants to remain quiet. Take the person’s lead before going straight to management. Perhaps they want to take a “wait and see” approach. Let them know you will be there to support them.
- There is strength in numbers. If you feel uncomfortable going to your boss by yourself, enlist in the help of others. More than likely, others have witnessed the behavior in question. Get together as a group and approach management. You will have proof that multiple witnesses have seen the behavior, making punishment more likely.
- Ask for training. Many huge corporations have training in place to prevent harassment in the workplace. If you feel as though your company could benefit from this type of training, speak to your manager.
Contact a New York Employment Law Attorney
If you have tried to deter workplace harassment on your own and your employer has done nothing to help, it is time to get legal help. Sexual harassment can decrease morale and make it difficult to focus on your job. You may even be tempted to quit.
Before you do anything, seek help from the experienced New York employment law attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. Under New York law, your employer can be held liable for workplace harassment. We can assess your case and determine liability. Schedule a free consultation today by calling our office at (347) 464-8694.