The first two things to know about workplace sexual harassment are that it is illegal, and you do not have to put up with it. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects you, as does state law.
The next thing to be aware of is that employers have a duty to prevent it, and if you report it, they have an obligation to deal with it. They cannot take action against you for reporting it, and you can take them to court if they do retaliate in any way.
You can hold an employer responsible for harassment in the workplace
If you suffer harassment at work, the buck stops with the company. It is their workplace, so they need to ensure your safety. If a boss, colleague, client, or anyone else harasses you while at work, you may be able to take action against your employer if they fail to protect you or address it.
How can an employer protect you from something they do not know is happening?
An employer may claim that they were unaware of the abuse. Does this let them off the hook? Not necessarily. Employers must be proactive in preventing sexual harassment. Does that mean they need to sit and watch everyone through security cameras? No. It means they need to have clear policies and ensure all workers know what those policies are. It may require one or more training sessions.
Employees need to know how to report harassment and managers how to handle these reports. Everyone needs to understand what sexual harassment looks like and that the company will not tolerate it.
However proactive an employer, cases of sexual harassment may still occur. Yet, sometimes it was allowed to happen and continue because employers did not do enough. If you have suffered from sexual harassment at work, find out more about your legal options to stop it and maybe claim compensation.