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What to Do If You've Been a Victim of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in Pennsylvania

Town Law Publishing Feb. 16, 2023

Sexual harassment is an unfortunately common occurrence in workplaces across the United States, including Pennsylvania. It can take many forms, including unwanted physical contact, sexual comments or advances, and even retaliation after refusing such advances. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it can be difficult to know what to do. In this blog post, we'll discuss the steps you should take as an employee in Pennsylvania if you have been a victim of sexual harassment.

Report the harassment to your employer.

The first step you should take if you have been a victim of sexual harassment is to report it to your employer. Many employers have policies in place to address sexual harassment, and they are required by law to investigate any reports of harassment. You should report the harassment to your supervisor, your human resources department, or any other designated person in your organization who is responsible for addressing sexual harassment complaints.

When you report the harassment, be as specific as possible about what happened, who was involved, and when it occurred. If there were any witnesses, provide their names and contact information. It's important to document the harassment in writing as well, so that there is a record of the complaint.

Cooperate with the investigation.

Once you have reported the harassment, your employer should conduct an investigation to determine whether the allegations are true. You should cooperate fully with the investigation, providing any information or evidence that may be helpful. If you are uncomfortable speaking directly with the investigator, you can provide information in writing or through a representative.

During the investigation, your employer should keep you informed of the progress and any decisions made. If the investigation confirms that the harassment occurred, your employer should take appropriate action to stop the harassment and prevent it from happening again.

Consider filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

If you believe that your employer has not adequately addressed the harassment, or if you have experienced retaliation after reporting the harassment, you may want to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). The PHRC is responsible for enforcing Pennsylvania's anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.

To file a complaint with the PHRC, you must do so within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. You can file a complaint online, by mail, or in person. The PHRC will investigate the complaint and may take legal action on your behalf if it finds that discrimination occurred.

Consult with an attorney.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it's important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in employment law. An attorney can help you understand your rights, evaluate your options, and represent you in any legal proceedings.

Take care of yourself.

Experiencing sexual harassment can be a traumatic and stressful experience. It's important to take care of yourself during this time. Consider talking to a counselor or therapist, who can help you process your feelings and develop coping strategies. You may also want to talk to your doctor, who can help you address any physical symptoms of stress. In addition, you may want to consider taking time off work or adjusting your work schedule to reduce stress and allow time for self-care.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it's important to take action to protect yourself and ensure that the harassment stops. By reporting the harassment, cooperating with the investigation, and seeking legal advice if necessary, you can hold your employer accountable for the harassment and protect your rights as an employee. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you through this difficult time.