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How to Handle a Sexual Harassment Complaint as a Victim

Sexual Harassment in the workplace is illegal, and once it is reported to the employer, it must be dealt with as quickly as possible. The Human Resources Department should be able to start this process off as they have all the relevant information and will know how to move forward with filing a complaint.

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Work Harassment is defined as 'unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, disability or genetic information'.

This area is a minefield if you have not navigated it before, get EasyLlama in, to take your Executive Team through the process.

Manager notifying the employee

How to handle a complaint

Firstly it is important to report the complaint within a designated timeframe, depending on the laws in your state. Putting a formal complaint in writing is the official way to proceed, and be certain to sign and date the letter. Make sure that the subject line says 'Official Complaint of Sexual Harassment'. This way your complaint cannot be legally ignored or misconstrued.

Send a copy of the complaint to your supervisor, so that they are quite clear about what is happening. The body of the letter will contain details of what actually happened to cause you to make the complaint. If there were any witnesses to the sexual harassment, their names should be included as well. Keep the wording of the letter simple and clear and end it by thanking them for looking into it.

The investigation

The investigation will include a review of both your file and the personal file of the accused individual. The Human Resource's Department, will then be checking to see if anything like this has happened before. This is all part of handling the complaint process and could be made so much easier by using EasyLlama to understand the process.

The accused will also be interviewed and his responses will be documented. When that has been completed your supervisor should take action to address the problem. The law prohibits retaliation for making a sexual harassment complaint, so you should not be in punished for making a truthful report.

The organization can be held liable for sexual harassment if they do not take appropriate steps to deal with the problem. Because the law is on your side you would expect that the complaint will be handled respectfully and quickly.

Example of behavior considered to be harassment
Employee asking for help

Complaints are Increasing

In all countries, sexual harassment cases and complaints are increasing and there are now telephone and online counseling services that will instruct you how to make a complaint against the perpetrator. A common complaint is a man harassing a fellow female colleague about going out with him, when she has clearly stated that she is not interested in social activities with him. What is interesting is that statistics show that only 45% of workplace sexual harassment cases stop after a complaint is made. Fellow workers who witness such behavior should bear some responsibility in preventing this from happening again by letting the perpetrator know that his type of behavior will not be tolerated.

There is now also sexual harassment training available for the workplace, and EasyLlama would be able to help your workplace to initiate a training program which lays down clear boundaries on behavior in the workplace, and reporting of sexual harassment.

For younger employees who may be relying on the approval of superiors in order to progress in their career, it is a very powerless position to be in, and they may feel afraid to speak out. We have heard of young women saying that they feel that speaking out might make things worse, so it is important that they are supported as well and confident should they need to make a complaint in the future.


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