April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This cause strives to bring public awareness to and shed light on sexual assault. One of the goals of the outreach during this month is to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual assault at work.
While as a society we continue to make strides to eliminate sexual assault, change is still needed. According to Time’s Up, approximately 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 have been sexually harassed at work. 71% of those women said they did not report it.
Sexual assault at work can happen at any time. It can happen with anyone. How do you protect yourself from sexual assault in the workplace?
1. Tell your harasser no. Do not be silent about the conduct taking place. Make it known you are not comfortable with his or her actions. Take action as early as possible. Be specific about which conduct upsets you and ask that it immediately stop. Although not always, the perpetrator may not know his or her behavior is wrong and need verbal confirmation that you are uncomfortable.
2. Look into your company’s sexual harassment/assault policy. You may find this in an employee handbook, your initial contract or an office memo. Typically, these policies request employees to report the harassment incident to the immediate supervisor or Human Resources. Do not wait. By reporting the incident to various forms of authority, punishment and regulation can sooner be put into place.
3. Know you have rights! Do not let any fears get in the way of protecting yourself. Get the help you need. Do not be afraid to report a comment, action, or gesture by someone who made you feel uncomfortable. No matter how small the incident may seem, you do not have to tolerate it.
4. Keep notes of the incidents. If you are in a situation where you are feel threatened with sexual assault, be sure to keep dates, descriptions of conduct, where it occurred and any witnesses. A good record of these incidents, paired with positive job evaluations or any memos demonstrating your satisfactory job performance, may be relevant in the future.
5. Attend sexual harassment/assault prevention courses or training. These may include how to speak with an assaulter and how to physically defend yourself in a compromising situation. Do not wait to find a course near you to learn more. You can click this link to find more resources in Florida.
Until sexual assault is no longer found in the workplace, it is important that you know how to protect yourself if a situation should arise. While we know this may not be easy to talk about do not wait to contact an experienced member of our legal to discuss your potential case.