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Steps to take if you are being harassed at work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that harassment is a form of workplace violence.

Harassment motivated by gender, race, color, religion or national origin could potentially constitute an unlawful employment practice in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) depending on the circumstances.

The EEOC'S Advice Regarding Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces Title VII.

The EEOC has written an article entitled "What You Should Know: What to Do if You Believe You Have Been Harassed at Work" as follows:

1) If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the person who is harassing you to stop.

2) If you do not feel comfortable confronting the harasser directly, or if the behavior does not stop, follow the steps below:

  1. Check to see if your employer has an anti-harassment policy. This may be on the employer's website. If it's not, check your employee handbook. Finally, you can ask any supervisor (it does not have to be your supervisor) or someone in Human Resources (if your employer has an HR department) whether there is an anti-harassment policy and if so, to give you a copy.

  2. If there is a policy, follow the steps in the policy. The policy should give you various options for reporting the harassment, including the option of filing a complaint.

  3. If there is no policy, talk with a supervisor. You can talk with your own supervisor, the supervisor of the person who is harassing you, or any supervisor in the organization. Explain what has happened and ask for that person's help in getting the behavior to stop.

  4. The law protects you from retaliation (punishment) for complaining about harassment. You have a right to report harassment, participate in a harassment investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment, without being retaliated against for doing so.

  5. You always have an option of filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC to complain about the harassment. There are specific time limits for filing a charge (180 or 300 days, depending on where you work), so contact EEOC promptly. See EEOC's How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination. You can also meet with EEOC to discuss your situation and your options. This conversation is confidential. Note: federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process and different time limit. SOURCE:

Please watch the following brief video regarding the EEOC and explaining what happens when an employee alleges harassment:

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