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What to do when you experience sexual harassment at work

There has certainly been a lot of talk lately about sexual harassment. While there has been a lot of talk about it, it may not be as clear how to handle it if it happens to you while at work.

A recent survey found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they experienced sexual harassment during their lifetime. Thirty-eight percent of women revealed that the sexual harassment they experienced was at work. Even though there is not a federal law that requires workplace victims to report an instance they believe is sexual harassment, it doesn't mean they shouldn't. If you are not sure what to do when confronted with sexual harassment at work, here is a guide for what you can do.

Find out company policy and the law

If you don't already know it, read the policy your company has on sexual harassment and learn about any laws in your state. The company policy should include information about your rights and what happens once a claim is reported. You should also find out if there is a company policy that will protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

Fill out a detailed report

While the incident is still very fresh in your mind, write down as many details as you can. The more specifics you can include the better. Be sure to include how the harassment has affected how you do your job. If there were any witnesses to the incident you feel you can trust, ask them to collaborate your story.

Set up a meeting

Ask for a meeting that will include a high-level member from HR and someone you believe is pertinent in the upper levels of the company. This is the time to lay out all the details of what happened and provide the information you gathered. If you can get them to admit the actions you encountered were wrong, be sure to write down their responses.

After the meeting to report the harassment -- what will happen next? You may want to ask about confidentiality and how the matter will be investigated. If the answers you receive don't meet your satisfaction, consider seeking the help of a legal professional.

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