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Employees can be proactive in preventing harassment

You have worked hard to start your career. You studied hard and got an education. You’ve done internships and worked entry-level positions. You know your field. You researched competition and applied for the perfect job. As you grow in your new role, you will want to know what the duties of your employer are. You will also want to know what is expected of you as an employee. If your employer has a handbook, study it. Know how what the goals and policies of the company are. Know what your benefits are and how they work.

It is important for you to remember that you are entitled to a safe work space. As an employee, you should also work to encourage a safe work space. Your employer should set up steps to prevent sexual harassment in the business.

As an employee, you can help encourage a harassment-free zone.

You should:

  • Know what the sexual harassment policy is at your workplace. Know what sexual harassment is, and ask questions if you need clarification. Know how to report harassment.
  • Take any sexual harassment training, workshops or consent forms seriously. Pay attention during classes. Sometimes sexual harassment may not be as blatant as you think. What may be okay with one person could be uncomfortable for another. These types of workshops are meant to inform and protect you as an employee.
  • Do not laugh at, spread or encourage inappropriate jokes. Sometimes your coworkers can become close friends. The more comfortable you become with one another, the easier it may be to blur the line between professional and personal friendship. Do not let your friendship get in the way of your professional judgment. If you hear an inappropriate joke, or are sent one, do not pass it on. Follow procedure to bring awareness to the issue.
  • Document communications with coworkers and managers. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable at any time, follow reporting protocols. Get communications in writing as evidence throughout the process. You may need documents in the event that someone accuses you of inappropriate behavior.
  • Keep professional and personal relationships separate. Make your stances and relationships clear. If you do have a relationship with a coworker, check to see if your employer has a consensual disclosure agreement. Refrain from displays of affection at work.
  • Know your rights as an employee. Understand that you do not have to endure harassing behavior. Understand that offensive materials should not be in the workplace. Know that there are consequences for uninvited and invited behaviors in the workplace.

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