Many incidents of sexual harassment develop into hostile work environments. These hostile environments generally result when individuals reject unwanted sexual advances. The harassment becomes more aggressive and entirely disrupts the work environment.
No one should have to put up with a situation like this, but there are some tips to navigate a hostile work environment.
Keep a record of the harassment
Documenting the harassment sounds tedious. It is probably the last thing anyone experiencing hostile harassment wants to do, but it is critical. A record can include:
- Copies of harassing emails or messages
- Personal records of verbal or physical harassment
- Dates that the harassment occurred
Evidence of the harassment is necessary if someone wishes to file a complaint with Human Resources or the Louisville Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office. And maintaining a record of the harassment is one way to get ahead in stopping it.
Discuss the situation with coworkers you trust
Talking with coworkers you trust can help build a source of support against the harassment. It is always helpful to collect second opinions on how to deal with the situation, especially from people who understand the nuances of your workplace. It may also be an advantage to speak with an experienced employment attorney.
A hostile work environment does not usually impact only one person. The entire workplace can become uncomfortable and tense for everyone. So, it is also helpful to speak with coworkers who have witnessed the harasser's behavior.
Confront the harasser
Even the mere idea of confronting the harasser—whether they are in a management position or not—can be extremely intimidating. Many people might worry that harassment or the environment could become worse if they speak up. And unfortunately, that is a possibility.
On the other hand, the harassment might stop if the harasser worries someone might report them. Regardless of the outcome, there are some essential tips for addressing the harassment directly, including:
- Speak respectfully
- Avoid aggressive words, but tell them to stop
- If this does not work, contact Human Resources
Remaining civil can be challenging in a hostile work environment, especially when the harasser is the exact opposite. However, it helps to control the situation when confronting the issue.
In the case that confrontation does not work, there are still options. Filing a report against the harasser and standing up to harassment are critical elements to eliminating hostility in the workplace.