From barworkadvice’s original survey on harassment, many respondents claimed to be unsure as to whether or not they had been harassed. If you’re feeling a little confused about your treatment in the workplace and if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it’s probably wrong.
David Williams, the Media Officer for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers offered some advice for any employee who feels they are being harassed at work:
“Sexual harassment is an important issue for Usdaw and our members. It is overwhelmingly a problem experienced by women from colleagues, a manager or members of the public. Young men and gay men can also be particularly vulnerable.”
“Employers are required to take action to prevent sexual harassment occurring. They have a duty to ensure that employees are aware that such behaviour is not acceptable. Employers are responsible for their own actions and those of their employees, so if an incident of sexual harassment does occur, it is up to the employer to take steps to deal with the incident and prevent any reoccurrence.”
If you are being sexually harassed, there are a number of things you can do:
- It is not your fault; you have a right not to be harassed. Do not try to deal with this on your own; tell your Union Rep and employer, confide in family and friends – get as much confidence and support as you can.
- If you feel able to you might want to tell the harasser that his behaviour is unwelcome and ask him to stop. Very often an early word prevents the matter escalating. Do it in writing if you do not wish to talk to him/her [sic], or go with your Union Rep. This prevents the harasser claiming that since you did not complain personally, he did not believe you objected to his behaviour. Keep a note of what happened and a copy of any letter that you send him. This can be important evidence.
- Express objection doesn’t have to be made for it to be deemed unwanted. If you don’t feel able to approach and speak to the person harassing you, your Rep can do this on your behalf.
- If he does not stop, keep a diary of what happens, noting incidents, witnesses, if any, dates and times. Let your Union Rep have copies.