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How to fight against sexual harassment at work

Even with state and federal laws in place to deter sexual harassment at work, some people cross the line. If you're the victim, you need to understand your legal rights and the steps you can take to immediately bring an end to the other person's behavior.

Here are several steps to take if you need to fight against sexual harassment at work:

  • Speak your mind: Let your harasser know that they are in the wrong and that you're not going to stand for their poor behavior any longer. It's your hope that speaking up will scare the person into stopping.
  • Read your employee handbook: It's here that you're likely to find information on reporting sexual harassment and the steps to take in the immediate future.
  • Report it: Make sure your company knows what's happening. This can include your supervisor, company owner and/or HR department. You don't want to keep the harassment to yourself.
  • Keep records of everything: For example, if you have evidence proving you are a victim, save it in a safe place. Also, record any correspondence you have with your company.
  • File an administrative charge: If you don't get the answers you want, you can file an administrative charge with your state or federal government.

Why do employers retaliate against their workers?

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines retaliation as any type of punishment that a job applicant or employee faces for voicing their desire not be harassed or discriminated against. According to the EEOC, although retaliation is illegal, it's the primary form of discrimination that those working in the federal sector endure.

One all-too-common reason an individual may face retaliation is because they resist the sexual advances of a co-worker, supervisor or manager or because they step in and stand up for another employee facing the same.

Southern California college employee files sexual harassment suit

An official at Marymount California University contends she was put on administrative leave because she denied the advances of the former school president, and she has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.

The woman, who is the school's chief financial officer, filed her suit two weeks after a female associate dean filed a similar lawsuit.

After claiming discrimination, employer retaliation is illegal

You face discrimination in your workplace. Whether you hear offensive comments about your protected class, you do not receive your anticipated promotion because of your outward appearance, or you did not receive an invite to the company party due to your religion, you have the authority to bring a claim against your employer for compensation.

However, you worry that your employer will treat you with disrespect upon bringing your allegations forward. Even if you rightfully obtain your compensation for facing workplace discrimination and stay at the company, you feel as though your employer will force you out of the organization. In the United States, by law, you cannot face any type of retaliation for bringing a discrimination claim forward. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers the freedom from potential retaliation to encourage those facing discrimination to come forward without fear of losing their jobs.

Workplace roles can be a sign of discrimination

Every workplace in California is supposed to offer the same opportunities to people of all ages, races, genders, etc. Discrimination is illegal, but it still happens, and employees need to know what to watch out for. One potential issue is when workplace roles do not appear fair.

For instance, maybe your boss hires both men and women at a roughly equal rate. That seems fair, but take a look at the jobs those people are given. Perhaps the men become supervisors and quickly work up the corporate ladder. The women, meanwhile, just get dead-end jobs answering phones and doing secretarial work. While the gender breakdown of the office is equal, it is clear that both genders are not being treated equally.

What can’t employers deduct from your paycheck?

Among the things that can cut into how much money a worker takes home are deductions. There are a range of deductions workers could find taken from their paychecks by their employer. Take, for example, a deduction pretty much all workers are familiar with, deductions for taxes.

It is important to note though that employers can’t simply deduct whatever they want from an employee’s wages. Here in California, workers have rights and protections when it comes to deductions.

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