Monday 19 November 2018

What to do if you've been sexually harassed in the workplace

Work policy: There should be an effective complaints procedure in place. Stock Image
Work policy: There should be an effective complaints procedure in place. Stock Image

Knowing what constitutes harassment is one thing: quite another is being on the receiving end and wondering what to do about it without "upsetting" the status quo at the office.

In the event of harassment, the experts suggest calling the perpetrator or offending party out in the first instance.

"People need to be careful and assess themselves whether it's safe to have this conversation one on one," says Leonie. "It's as simple as saying, 'I don't like what you're doing. It makes me uncomfortable. I want it to stop, and if you don't, I will take this further'. An indirect approach is to send an email. There are situations in which this will work perfectly well."

If you find this uncomfortable or too difficult to do, you should seek support, or for an initial approach to be made on your behalf, by a sympathetic friend or colleague, a designated person at work or a trade union representative. Most organisations have a support contact person for staff to liaise with if they are experiencing workplace issues. This person, says Leonie, is a good port of call.

"After that, a person may make a semi-formal complaint, or a formal complaint, via their line manager or via HR," says Leonie.

In accordance with the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, your employer should have a policy and procedures to deal with and prevent harassment at work. The policy should set out what is unacceptable behaviour at work. An effective grievance or complaints procedure should also be in place to deal with complaints about harassment.

If you are making a formal complaint, Jane suggests getting as much evidence down on paper as possible: "This gives you strength and confidence enough to do something about it," she says. "Choose one person, that has nothing to do with your workplace, and talk to them to get another perspective on everything too."

Irish Independent

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