How to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Work

Have you ever felt like your being sexually harassed and didn’t know what to do about it? Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment. There was a presentation about sexual harassment in one of my classes yesterday so I wanted to share the information with you all. It can be an uncomfortable or awkward subject to talk about but it is important to not only be aware that it happens but to also be prepared in case you are being harassed.

I used to work in a bunch of restaurants, which can be a tricky situation when it comes to sexual harassment since there is no real HR department and sometimes it’s a really tight knit group of people.  For me, it was my first job and I was 17 years old. I got to work on maybe my second or third week so I was still pretty excited to have a job. I came in and checked in with my manager. Mind you, this was a small pizzeria, nothing fancy, family owned and operated. As I’m talking to my manager I realize he wasn’t really paying attention to what I was saying. He then tilts his head to blatantly check out my ass, tilts the other way to check out my chest. He said (and no I’m not kidding) “nice ass, nice titties…you look good today”. I was so confused/shocked that he just casually said that, I didn’t know what to say. I told him I didn’t think he was aloud to say that, to which he defensively responded “Are you mad? I was complementing you!” I gave an “psshh” type of laugh/head shake and walked away. It wasn’t the only day things like that would happen but I needed the job and when I didn’t pay it attention or just shot these guys a glare or a sassy remark it eventually chilled out. At the time, I knew him and other men working there were not allowed to treat me like that but I just really didn’t know what I would do. Once it calmed down, I just let it go.

The reason I share this story is because a lot of sexual harassment does happen to people in their first job since they are more vulnerable so if you are entering the work force or are dealing with a sexual harassment situation here are somethings you can do, instead of ignore it and hope it goes away.

– Stand up and confront your harasser! You can use an “I message” here. Ex: I feel ________ when you _____________ because ____________. (I would sometimes stand up but not in this more formal way. If I let them know that it was unacceptable and that I would not stand for it, they might have backed off sooner.)

– If you would rather not talk to them, tell someone else. You can start with a friend or family member then talk to your boss. If your boss is the one harassing you can reach out to HR. If there is no HR you can reach out to an organization such as United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

It is also important to note that if you see sexual harassment happening to someone else, offer support. Far too often people feel like they have no one to turn to. Be courageous and stand up for what it right, you would want someone to do the same for you. Offer to chat with the victim and if they want to take steps towards fixing the problem, offer support. No one is asking for harassment and no one deserves to be harassed. Men, women, humans, everyone, deserves to be treated fair and right.

2 thoughts on “How to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Work

  1. okay I LOVE that you wrote about this. I used to work at a family owned fine dining restaurant in Old Town Manassas, Virginia and I loved the owner and his wife. They helped me get my first job and promoted me to a server/trainer when I turned 18. They also let me get catering experience and I truly felt indebted to them. After I went away to college and came back for the summer, they had hired a new GM. He made inappropriate jokes about me becoming his “summer girlfriend” and I quickly shut them down. After I finally asserted myself, he (among other things) talked behind my back about trying to fire me because he was “tired of my smart mouth.” I didn’t know what to do since I really cared about the owners and I knew this new GM was taking a lot of the work load off of them (they were getting older). I was confused, depressed and hated a job I once loved. I wish I would have known about the EEOC back then but thank you so much for writing about this! I know I’m not alone and I also know what to do if it happens in the future!


    1. Thank you for your comment! I totally understand- it’s a very awkward thing and especially when your young you have no idea what to do. I feel like it probably happens way too often so it’s important that we try to help others too!


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