Facing workplace harassment is one of the hardest and most devastating problems an employee can face. Nevertheless, every problem has a solution, and you as an employee, can prevent such practices to protect yourself and others at work. Starting by knowing your rights and understanding the company’s ‘Code of Conduct,’ and ending with filing a complaint or a lawsuit, Jobzella is offering you a guide on how to act when it comes to sexual harassment at work.
Note: We are aware the article seems targeted towards males and females, the reason being is that sexual harassment does happen to males too and Jobzella stands against sexual harassment and any kind of harassment whether targeted towards males and females. Before you read on, please take a serious stand against harassment and help us stop it.
- Don’t Quit! You have rights.
Running from the problem is definitely easy, but it doesn’t solve the problem, and more importantly, it would never guarantee that you, the employee, won’t face the same problem again wherever you go. So, the first step you must take to be active in this regard, is to understand your country’s labor laws and the company’s Code of Conduct. Regardless where you work, any company or workplace must be committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all its employees and workers. Having a safe environment is not exclusive on protecting the employees from any chemical substances or dangerous work equipment, but also include facilitating the environment that encourage the employees productivity and increase their ability to work. In simpler words, a workplace that prevents all kinds of harassment whether from the manager, a co-worker or even the costumer. Although these rules must be enforced on workplaces by the country’s labor laws, every company must define their own code of conduct.
This code simply outlines the rules, laws, duties and responsibilities in which every individual in the workplace must commit to and will be punished if ignored them. A company’s Code of conduct is more detailed and tailored to the company’s nature and business. What you need to do as an employee, is to read it carefully and understand its sections, and act accordingly or report when a violation happens, sexual harassment is a serious violation and should be stopped. Use the law to your advantage here.
- Don’t delay.
When something is going wrong in the workplace, and you or a colleague is being harassed, don’t wait for long until you take an action. Ignoring the assault, will make you get more assaults and expose you to more harassment. More importantly, when you don’t try to stop the harassment, you are giving up your rights and making it more difficult for you to get compensated when demanding them in the future. In other words, if you didn’t report being harassed and ignored it for more than a month, for example, then you decided to complain, it might be difficult for your supervisor to believe you because you were not bothered before. Moreover, you showed a neutral attitude regarding the harassment, which might have taught other employees that this assault was acceptable. So, once you feel you have been harassed either by your boss or just a colleague, don’t delay, and take an action instantly.
- Talk to the person immediately.
Start by the harassing person, go to him immediately and ask him to stop his assault. Sometimes, the harassing person doesn’t know that he is harming or bothering you, especially if you have been quite about it for long, or if they are used to do this with everyone else. Sometimes, talking to the person immediately is the key to solve the whole problem. You tell them that you are offended by their acts, you insist that they should never repeat them again, and maybe threaten you will take this matter to the management, then your problem is gone. The most important thing is that you took an action, or at least a first step to solve this problem.
- Talk to your supervisor or manager.
If talking to the harassing person didn’t solve the problem, then you need to go to your supervisor or the manager. Be precise yet concise, and tell them what is going on. Don’t be afraid. As your manager, he needs to know what bothers you, and it is his duty to help solving the problem and creating a better and more comfortable working environment. On the other hand, if you feel that you can’t talk to the harassing person directly, then you must keep your supervisor posted and updated, so he can observe that person and interfere to stop the harassment. Sometimes, it is recommended to inform your manager even if the problem was solved, so he can monitor that person and make sure he doesn’t harass anyone else.
- Write it down, and document everything.
Write down everything about the harassment. You need to document who did what and when. Include also, whenever the incident is repeated, and what the person says and does. Keeping a written account proves that the harassing person has an ongoing offend, which will support your case and give enough details so no one can question your complaint. On the other hand, keeping a written document of the assaults does not mean that you, as an employee, should wait until the harassment is repeated. Report it immediately when it happens, but keep the document to support your case and grant it validity.
- Demand action.
Talking to the harassing person or reporting to your supervisor, is definitely a good step to solve the problem, but it is only the first step. This means, you must not stop after this, but you should demand other steps until the solution is accomplished. It is your right to see that your manager is exerting effort to stop the harassment and to reassure a safe work environment. If this didn’t happen, then you might need to take this matter to a higher department or authority that can stop the harassment and punish the manager for not doing anything. It is also possible that you file a legal complaint or a lawsuit, if nothing changes inside the company. No matter how far you might need to go, the most important thing is that you never give up your right and remain quite.
- Do you need a lwayer? Sometimes but not always.
If you followed every step to get your problem solved, but there is no respond, then you might need to file a lawsuit and hire a lawyer. This should be your last option when your case is being delayed or ignored and more of your rights are being violated, which makes you more exposed to harassment and abuses.
Sexual Harassment and the Law in Egypt:
Egypt didn’t criminalize sexual harassment until the law was approved in 2014. In general, the sexual abuse is punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 50,000 L.E. However, when the harassment takes place in the workplace and is made by a manager or an employee who has an authority over another, then the abuser can receive at least two years in jail and pay up to 10,000 L.E. So don’t give up your rights or fear demanding justice, whenever you or another co-worker is being harassed, take an action and report it immediately. Help stop sexual harassment wherever you are.
Do you feel you are getting harassed at work? Colleagues or bosses making your life harder? Tell your stories and talk to us. We promise complete anonymity. Jobzella will offer advice and help when you reach out to us at Jobzella, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,YouTube and Pinterest.
This post is also available in: Arabic
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