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Addressing sexual harassment

Statistics indicate that about 71 percent of women decide against reporting workplace sexual harassment due to the fear of being retaliated against. However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to help prevent future incidences of sexual harassment and support their colleagues.

One action entails addressing the workplace misconduct when it is witnessed. This means that individuals should speak up when they hear inappropriate and sexual comments regarding a colleague or sees a colleague being victimized by a sexual harasser.

Another way to curtail sexual harassment in the workplace is to confront the individual guilty of the illegal conduct, even if the victim is not present. For example, a male colleague can immediately object to inappropriate statements made by other male colleagues who are speaking among themselves regarding a female colleague.

Sometimes it may be prudent to speak with the victim privately about the sexual harassment before reporting an incident. After inquiring about the victim's welfare, the colleague may inform her of his intention to report the sexual harassment and ask whether she would object. After doing so, the colleague should notify a manager or someone in the human resource department about what was witnessed.

If there are questions about sexual harassment in the workplace, individuals should ask their employer about training. This can include learning about the professional and personal consequences of sexually harassing a colleague or learning how to recognize and speak about the matter. The employees who are the target of lewd comments or other forms of harassment may want to meet with an attorney to learn more about the rights that they have.

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