Workers in New Jersey and elsewhere who have been victims of sexual harassment may feel powerless to hold their abusers accountable for their actions. However, there are many steps that you can take to protect yourself against managers or colleagues who may act inappropriately toward you.

Let the harasser know that you’re uncomfortable

There is a chance that the person who is harassing you has no idea that his or her actions are making you uncomfortable. In many cases, simply talking to this person can get that individual’s behavior to change almost immediately. At a minimum, your harasser will know that his or her actions won’t be tolerated and that any further infractions may result in a formal complaint.

Let management know about the problem

Often, your employer will have a set of rules that you must follow when making a sexual harassment claim. If your employer doesn’t have a reporting policy, talk to your supervisor or any other manager in the company who you trust. It may also be possible to file a sexual harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if your employer doesn’t take the allegation seriously.

You may be given an opportunity to pursue a lawsuit

If the EEOC determines that your claim is valid, you may be given an opportunity to take your employer to court. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, the value of lost benefits and for any emotional distress related to being sexually harassed. Furthermore, your employer may be responsible for paying any legal fees or court costs that you incurred. In addition to financial compensation, the company named in the lawsuit may be required to make changes to its employment policies.

If you believe that you have been sexually harassed at work, it may be in your best interest to hire an employment law attorney. An attorney may be able to help you organize text messages, emails or other evidence of inappropriate conduct. This may maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in the case.

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