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What can be done about sexual harassment in the workplace?

In New Jersey and throughout the United States, a large number of workers report being sexual harassed while on the job. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace, boundaries are still sometimes crossed. This makes it important for individuals to know what can be done in the event that they become a victim of sexual harassment.

Although the best course of action depends on the severity and regularity of the harassment, for many workers, the best thing to when sexually harassed is to report the incident to the appropriate authority within the company. Federal law requires employers to follow certain requirements in the event that an employee reports sexual harassment or the employer otherwise becomes aware of sexual harassment taking place. Federal law also protects employees from being retaliated against if they report sexual harassment.

When harassment is especially severe or employers fail to do anything about harassment that has already been reported, workers can seek out a community-based advocacy program, get in contact with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or talk to the police. Failing to take action against incidents of sexual harassment gives perpetrators the impression they can continue to push boundaries in the future and only serves to create hostile work environments.

When workers decide that legal action should be taken against their harasser, lawyers are available to help assemble, evaluate and submit claims against the allegedly guilty parties, which can include individuals, employers and other groups. Results from claims can vary greatly from case to case, but victims can receive substantial compensation when judges side with them or favorable settlements are decided upon outside of court.

Source: USA Today, "Know your rights: What students can do about sexual harassment in the workplace," Alexandra Samuels, March 6, 2015

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