How to handle sexual harassment in the workplace

Focus on home, not Hollywood -- what YOU need to do, if YOU get harassed in the workplace.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - While the topic of sexual harassment is a major in both the spheres of Hollywood and Capitol Hill, it is just as important in the common workplace.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted a study in 2016 to investigate the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace. It found, using different methods of sampling, that anywhere from 40 to 75 percent of women have encountered "sexually-based behaviors" at work, like unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion.

Local Attorney Linda Hitt Thatcher said sexual harassment can take multiple forms. It can be anything from sexual favors to unlawful sexual conduct.

She said if a person thinks they are a victim of sexual harassment, they should make their concerns known to their employer.

"If the company never knew that the sexual harassment existed, than it would be difficult for that individual to file a sexual harassment complaint and win in a court of law," Thatcher said.

She said it is important for victims to know that when they speak up, the law is on their side.

"You cannot be retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment," Thatcher said. "Once you complain, the company has a duty to investigate your complaint."

However, she pointed out that there is also a burden on businesses to make sure their employees stay safe.

She said the an office should have the five following preventative measures in place to ensure a safe workplace: Committed & Engaged Leadership, Demonstrated Accountability, a Comprehensive Harassment Policy, an Accessible Complaint Procedure and Regular & Interactive Training.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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