Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t ever acceptable. It encompasses a range of behaviors, from unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors to verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
This atrocious behavior doesn’t just affect the direct victim. It can impact everyone in the workplace by creating a hostile work environment. Even eyewitnesses to this behavior have the right, and in some cases, the responsibility, to file complaints.
The importance of bystander intervention
When eyewitnesses step forward to report inappropriate behavior, they might help stop the harassment and prevent its recurrence. Their complaints can provide corroborating evidence that supports the claims of the primary victim, especially in situations where the victim is reluctant or afraid to speak up.
How eyewitnesses can file complaints
Eyewitnesses to sexual harassment can take several steps to file a complaint. They should document the incident, noting the date, time, location and details of what they observed. This information can be crucial for an investigation.
They can report the incident to their supervisor, human resources department or any designated officer responsible for handling such complaints. Many companies also have anonymous reporting systems to protect the complainant’s identity.
The role of employers
All employers are responsible for creating a workplace where all forms of harassment are strictly prohibited. This includes establishing clear policies against sexual harassment, providing training to all employees and setting up effective and confidential reporting mechanisms.
Employers must also ensure that complaints filed by eyewitnesses are taken seriously and investigated promptly, providing appropriate support to all parties involved. Victims of sexual harassment at work have specific legal rights. Working with someone familiar with these matters is critical so they can learn their options.