In 2016, there were more than 12,000 claims of sexual harassment filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in the United States. While this number is astounding, it pales in comparison to the number of true victims of sexual harassment who never speak up about what they've dealt with at work. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to feel uneasy about reporting a situation and just take matters into their own hands. It is always best to report claims of sexual harassment at work, and even better if you speak with an attorney about your situation, but there are also other things you should do when something like this occurs.
Immediately demand that the harassment stops because you are uncomfortable.
Sexual harassment is not always about sex; most often, it is in the form of things like lewd comments, out-of-line statements, and unwanted interactions. Whatever it is, no matter how minimal it may seem to you, if it is making you uncomfortable, you have the right to speak up and you definitely should. Make it known to whoever is harassing you that the behavior has to stop because you do not feel comfortable and it is disrupting your ability to do your job. Don't ignore the situation and hope it goes away. Use your voice to resist, inform, and demand the situation to change.
Immediately report the incident to authority in your workplace and be blunt.
Letting your employer know immediately that you are being sexually harassed is critical. This is when your employer should step in and take the proper corrective action with the employee. During this initial report, be blunt and open about what has occurred, even if speaking about what has happened makes you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Being direct about the situation avoids confusion, so your employer understands the gravity of the situation.
Immediately distance yourself from the situation if the harasser does not stop.
If you demand a certain behavior be stopped and it persists, it is best to distance yourself from the situation by whatever means necessary. If the person doing the harassing is a member of management or someone you cannot get away from, don't hesitate to leave work and contact an attorney for advice. It is illegal for your employer to punish you for protecting yourself from a situation that involves sexual harassment if you do not feel safe.
Contact your local sexual harassment attorney for more information and assistance.