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5 questions to ask before filing a sexual harassment complaint

Any time you feel uncomfortable in the workplace, you can bring it up to a supervisor or manager. Perhaps you do not want to file a formal complaint, but you want to make others aware that some unseemly behavior has occurred. On the other hand, you may feel that another person's actions toward you cause serious problems in the workplace, especially if you think those activities constituted sexual harassment.

Moving forward with a sexual harassment complaint can set many wheels in motion. You may feel that a manager or co-worker subjected you to unwanted actions, but you may not know whether it was enough to warrant a sexual harassment complaint. Before you file a complaint, you may want to assess the situation and determine your best course of action.

Ask yourself these questions

If you had an encounter with someone at work that made you feel uncomfortable, it is not always easy to know how to handle the incident. Should you just let it go? Should you talk to the person? Should you file a formal complaint? Considering your options for handling this ordeal is wise, and asking yourself the following questions may help you make your decision:

  • Was the incident unwelcome?
  • Did the encounter offend you? 
  • Would any reasonable person find the incident offensive?
  • Have such incidents happened often or occur throughout the workplace?
  • Were the actions carried out serious?

Taking offense to something can be subjective, which is why it is often necessary to consider whether specific actions or remarks would offend any reasonable individual. For example, if a co-worker or supervisor makes a salacious comment toward you or touches you inappropriately, you and likely any reasonable person would find those actions offensive, particularly in a workplace setting.

Follow your instincts

Sexual harassment largely stems from unwanted or unwelcome behavior. If you find yourself trying to determine whether you experienced harassment, you likely did not welcome the action. It is often best to follow your instincts and make a report of any harassing incidents you experience at work. If the behaviors continue and your employer does not take steps to address the matter, your formal complaints may act as evidence later.

In the event that you do file a sexual harassment claim that goes uninvestigated, you may have reason to take legal action to address the matter. Wrongdoing in any Florida workplace is serious, and you do not have to simply accept inappropriate behavior.

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