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Welcome Aboard, Now Take Our Harassment Policy: 5 Steps to Stop On the Job Sexual Harassment

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on April 24, 2009 3:07 PM

The hiring of Isiah Thomas at Florida International University reportedly angered a number of faculty at FIU due to his past track record, and no, I am not referring to his coaching or executive skills. Instead, what the New York Times was talking about was the fact that Isiah Thomas was found by a jury to have sexually harassed a colleage in his previous stint with the New York Knicks.

Indeed, the Times story noted that some relatively extraordinary steps apparently were being planned in welcoming Thomas to his new gig:

"Laurie Shrage, the director of women's studies and a philosophy professor at the university, said she and some of her colleagues planned to hand-deliver to Thomas a copy of the university's sexual harassment policy. "

Although hand-delivery of an employer's sexual harassment policy might arguably be a good, if a bit over-the-top, preventive measure for an employer to take, employees themselves should probably be aware of the key steps they should take should they suffer any on the job sexual harassment. Here is a list of five crucial steps to put a stop to sexual harassment:

1) Tell the harasser to stop.  It's important to make sure the harasser is on notice that you don't approve of their conduct. Often this alone can resolve the entire problem (of course, sometimes not). 

2) Keep a written record.  Take notes on what happened during the incidents of harassment, when they occurred, and who might have witnessed those incidents. This could be helpful later on should an investigation of the matter ever arise.

3) Use your employer's grievance procedure.  If your employer has a procedure in place for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment, speak with the person responsible for that process.

4) Consult with an attorney.  An attorney can give you guidance tailored to your specific situation about the next steps to take in stopping the harassment.

5) Notify an anti-discrimination agency.  If your employer does not take action to resolve your grievance, you can file a complaint with the EEOC or a similar state agency requesting that they conduct an investigation.

Below are some additional links to information and resources on the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace.

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