By: Ashtun Welling
It’s all over the television, celebrities and political officials are receiving incriminating information. Women finally breaking the silence, the fear of nobody believe them is out the window. That fear should not be a factor in your safety. If you don’t know what sexual harassment is in the workplace, it could be flirting, asking for a date, inappropriate comments, grabbing, or even touching you in places that make you feel uncomfortable. This is inexcusable behavior that could have some serious consequences.
There are going to be people that try to take advantage of your good nature. In the workplace or even in school, a voice is needed to speak up when you don’t like the situation.
Here are some tips and practices on how to deal with harassment if it happens to you:
With a lot of young people searching for their first job, you need to ask yourself:; What am I okay with? If you feel comfortable flirting and joking with your coworkers, it isn't harassment. However, if that embarrasses or threatens you, it is harassment.
If the employee is on the same level as you, report to the manager. If this person is in a position of power, take a look around the office. They must have it posted somewhere the Human Resource and the Boss contact information. If they do not take a look through your new hire employee packet. If for some reason that is no longer in your possession go to their website. Before you call make sure you have the dates of when it happened, so you have a timeline and your story isn’t missing details. Also if you spoken to your manager/supervisor, keep record of everything. This will all be important information in your interview.
Do not wait around to wait for action to be taken by the company. In many companies they cannot afford to keep video evidence forever; most of the systems are wiped clean after seven days. So that means if something happened on Monday, you need to report it before Sunday. A new week is usually on a Sunday for most offices. You need to report it to your manager as soon as possible.
Most companies also have a Human Resources representative to interview to hear your side of the story. Once you have spoken to this representative, you can no longer talk about it in the workplace. You must keep quiet because it is an ongoing investigation. Otherwise, you could still lose your job. With that being said, if anybody else is found gossiping about what happened, they could be reported as well.
If the person you reported tries to retaliate in any sort of way you, immediately call your representative. Do not try to engage in any sort of negative conversation with your co-worker. Wv section 77-04-01 states the different types of harassment in the workplace and the action that can take place before you lose your job. Article 3.5 states that it is the employers must take any necessary precautions to ensure a safe work environment.
In school settings it’s dealt with very differently. As a student, you can report to any staff member within the school. According to Hosaflook they have to go through training every year just so they know how to handle these situations. Once you report to a teacher they have 24 hours to contact Child Protection Services(CPS) and the State Police. As long as you are a student in Jackson County it doesn’t matter how old you are, the process will be the same.
“Every student has the right to a safe learning environment if you have an issue here in the school. Report it to whomever you feel most comfortable with. We will take care of it,” said principal Will Hosaflook.
You deserve to feel safe wherever you may be. We see on the television all the time on how girls wait years to tell about their harassment story. Learn to speak up for yourself, before others try to belittle you.