One-Time Workplace Harassment

28 Dec

Legally, to be considered sexual harassment in the workplace, unwanted sexual attention must be repeated to create a hostile work environment. Or it must be “severe”, which is in the eye of the beholder. So what do you do if you are harassed just once?

Whether it is one-time or frequent, I believe it is worthwhile to confront your harasser directly. For many people, the thought of confronting someone about anything directly causes severe, skin-crawling anxiety. I get it. It’s not your favorite thing to do and that is understandable. Here’s why you should do it anyway:

1) Practice makes perfect. The more times you stand up for yourself, draw and defend your boundaries, and face your fears, the easier it gets. Skeptical? Don’t take shit from people for 3 weeks and see if you ever go back. Trust me. It is a huge relief to let go of all the things you have been too scared or unsure of yourself to say.

2) Clearly stating that behavior is unwanted is the first step to legal action. If your confrontation works, you won’t have to deal with harassment from this person again. If it doesn’t work, you can document the incident and begin to build a case against this person because their behavior is now officially sexual harassment.

3) It’s empowering. As women, we are not really taught to defend ourselves from anything (with some exceptions). We are taught that we should find someone else to defend us. Tell the boss. Whatever. It’s refreshing to take control of our own destinies and just say to that person who is harassing us, “Hey! What you just said/did was completely inappropriate/offensive. It is not okay for you to speak to me/treat me that way and I don’t want this to happen again.”

Looking for more tips on how to speak up?

How To Be Polite Without Inviting Unwanted Attention

Sexual Harassment By Customers: What To Say

The Word “NO”– Always A Classic!

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