Help! Advances At Work…
A Question That Our Team Received:
My name is Mia and I have had this ongoing problem for the past five years. Men make advances towards me at work. I don’t dress provocatively. I wear high collared blouses. I don’t use perfume. I quit wearing jewelry, and I have even stopped wearing makeup to work. I have quit 4 jobs in the past five years to avoid the advances. I really don’t know what else to do, I don’t wear dresses any more - I wear pants. I have not gone to HR because I am embarrassed and don’t want this to be spread all over the organization. I tell them to stop and to leave me alone. Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated.
This is our understanding of your situation and question.
Your question is:
What can you do to stop the advances made towards you by the men at work?
- You are being harassed by men at work who are making advances at you
- You have quit 4 jobs because this keeps happening to you
- You have stopped wearing dresses, jewelry, and makeup hoping this would help stop the advances
- You do speak up and tell them to stop and leave you alone
- You have not ever told your Human Resources Director at any of your jobs
The one thing that is not clear to me is whether these advances are verbal, physical, or both? Not that it matters – any type of behavior of this nature is unacceptable.
First of all, you should be able to be who you are by wearing the clothing, make up, jewelry and whatever makes you, be you, keeping within the company’s dress code, if there is one.
Don’t ever think you should have to give up on being who you are because someone makes advances at you.
In your statement/question to me, you stated you do not dress provocatively so you are not making yourself look sexy. You don’t wear low cut revealing blouses or short skirts because you stated you wear high collared blouses and pants. Men find you attractive and come on to you, making advances and feel that it is acceptable behavior to treat you that way even when you ask them to stop and tell them no.
When you tell these men to stop and leave you alone, do you tell them in a raised, loud, and assertive voice?
If you are not speaking in a loud voice, they may not be taking you seriously. You shouldn’t have to raise your voice or be loud, but sometimes being loud gets their attention and it might just help you in the future.
You indicated you never went to your Director of Human Resources. I am guessing that you never went to your supervisor either about the problem, since you never contacted the HRD.
We can understand you felt embarrassed, so you chose not to go to Human Resources.
Human Resources is there for the employees to help them with any issues they may have and all Human Resources professionals know the importance of maintaining confidentiality.
If you would have gone to the People Operations Director with your problem, he/she would have been able to help you. All employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from any form of harassment.
You obviously have tried to handle the situation on your own and that has not worked.
Here is our response to what you should do and what will take place:
- Put the incident in writing; document the dates, time of the occurrence, who was involved, and what happened. Make sure your documentation is accurate.
- Even though you feel embarrassed to go to Human Resources, you need to make an appointment to see the Human Resources Director.
- When you go to your appointment to meet with the Human Resources Director, remember to take your documentation with you. Make sure you tell the Human Resources Director about all the incident(s) that have occurred.
- The Human Resources Director will have to conduct an investigation with all parties involved in the alleged incident(s). This type of incident(s) is considered Sexual Harassment.
- Employers are required to have mandatory Sexual Harassment Posters posted. All employees should have been inserviced on all forms of Harassment, which includes Sexual Harassment. Some states even require mandatory Sexual Harassment training.
- The investigation will involve the Human Resources Director conducting interviews with each individual(s) who is involved or may be a witness to any of the incident(s) that you, the employee, claims occurred.
- The Human Resources Director will remind each individual interviewed that this matter is confidential and not to be discussed with anyone. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action up to and including their discharge.
- The final outcome of the investigation will determine whether or not any disciplinary action will transpire.
- If there are individual(s) who are found to have violated the Sexual Harassment policy and procedure, they are subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge. The severity of the discipline is dependent on the violation that has occurred.
- Once the investigation has concluded, the Human Resources Director will let you know the outcome of what they have found out. If disciplinary action is warranted, they will handle it. The Human Resources Director will not tell you the disciplinary action being taken with any of the individual(s) because that will violate their confidentiality. You will be informed that the incident has been handled and that appropriate action is being taken. Of course if someone no longer shows up at work, you can pretty much guess that they no longer working there.
- You need to immediately contact the Human Resources Director if anyone tries to retaliate against your for bringing the issue of Sexual Harassment to management’s attention. It will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge.
Governmental agencies have designated websites that will provide you with information on Sexual Harassment and what your rights are.
Our response to your question is based on our professional experience and knowledge. This in no way means this is the only way to handle the issue, it is just the way we would handle it.
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