Any sexual harassment is an unpleasant experience, but when it happens at your workplace, it becomes even harder to just ignore (and you shouldn’t!). That casual sexy remark about your body, or that placement of hand on your lower back when you’re in a discussion, on a daily basis, begins to affect your job. And, it’s worse if the person in question is your superior, or a boss, because you don’t want to lose your job, or jeopardise your way into that much-needed promotion. But how long can you stay at a hostile and offensive working environment?
Some, like in the case of the writer of the viral open letter that surfaced late last year, accusing local radio station BFM 89.9 of ignoring a sexual harassment complaint, took it to the media outlets. And, events resulting from that led the radio station to immediately set up an independent investigating committee which was given a full mandate to investigate all of the allegations contained in the email. Last week, BFM released an official statement, saying that it has sacked two of its employees following an internal investigation into sexual harassment and rape allegations.
While it has worked out for the complainant, here’s what you can immediately do about sexual harassment at work:
Know your company’s complaint mechanism
According to family law practitioner and women’s rights advocate, Sharmini Thiruchelvam, it’s also important to know how the complaints mechanism at your workplace works, so you can go through the right department. For example, if you’re a current or former employee writing to complain about harassment involving a co-worker, supervisor or manager, your letter will most probably be addressed to the human resource (HR) department. In a smaller organisation it could be addressed to the owner or a managing partner as this person is considered your employer. If the complaint is against an employer who is a sole proprietor, the complaint should be lodged to labour department’s director general.