Over the years, sexual harassment has always been an issue in different work place. As a result of this, some have willingly resigned while others were sacked because they either can’t complain about such immoral act or had refused the advances by their superiors. On the other hand, some have given in to such, either because they were threatened of losing their jobs or they buckled under persistent pressure.
Sexual harassment involves any unwanted sexual behaviors, such as inappropriate touching or even making comments of a sexual nature; it can take on the form of verbal or physical conduct.
In case you find yourself in such an unfriendly and unwanted situation, here are 6 ways to deal with sexual harassment in the work place:
1. Communicate your disapproval
Address the issue by telling the person of your objection and don’t be casual about it; let your objections be met with seriousness. Let the person know your stand. Some people will respect your stand after such warning note. It’s not too advisable to use the threatening tactics, as this could cause some bad blood in the work place. If you can avoid being alone with such a colleague who makes you uncomfortable, please do so.
2. Keep a record
Keep a record of any form of sexual harassment incident. Document it for evidence. Try to make use of your phone recorder to secretly record such moments.
3. Tell someone you trust about it
Share the situation with a colleague you trust in the office. However, be careful of who you trust with such information. The whole essence is for the person to be a witness, should a need arise for an intervention to the situation, the person will help address the situation. A senior colleague at work will be the best option at a confidant.
4. Formal complaint
If the following steps does not work out, you can go ahead to make a formal complaint to the top authority or any external authority in charge disciplinary actions. Make both oral and written complaint and retain a copy for yourself.
5. Have a plan B
The plan B is usually the difficult part, which is to look for another job opportunity. This is needed for your own security and peace of mind, so as not to get caught unawares. You can peacefully resign and move onto with your life.
6. Get Legal Assistance
If you are forced to resign or you resign on your own, you can sue the company for the harassment. Under Nigerian law, the National Industrial Court is the special court that has jurisdiction to hear cases of sexual harassment at work. You can sue the employee and the company for the harassment (the employer can be held vicariously liable for the acts of their employee- the person who is harassing you, especially if it is shown they have not taken any steps to protect you from the harassment).
You can also sue the, for constructive dismissal – this basically means that they have forced you to resign due to making the office environment intolerable for you, therefore giving you no choice but to resign.
Remedies which the court can grant include back pay or reinstatement (if you were forced to resign); hiring or promotion (if it was quid pro quo harassment); compensatory damages (emotional pain and suffering); punitive damages (damages to punish the employer) etc.
Always remember that no job is more important than your happiness, and life is too short to hold onto unhappiness.
Live life and don’t just exist.