What to Do If You See Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sep 15 2017

Just do a quick internet search and you can find many websites that discuss what you should do if you’re being sexually harassed at work. But what if you’re the one who witnesses the harassment?

Sexual harassment occurs more often than one might think, even in this day and age. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 12,860 formal complaints of sexual harassment in 2016 — an increase over 2015 and 2014 numbers.

Recent stories reporting sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Uber, Fox News, and Amazon are reminders that women still experience harassment because of their gender. But what does gender or sexual harassment look like?

How Can You Tell It’s Sexual Harassment?

What is sexual harassment in the workplace? It’s not necessarily like it’s depicted in the movies (although it could be) where a male manager is propositioning a female secretary. In fact, harassment is not always so obvious – sometimes it can take the form of a  sexual comment or a sexually suggestive email.

Some examples of sexual harassment that is illegal under federal and Connecticut law are:

  • Sexually explicit comments about a co-worker
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner
  • Sharing inappropriate images or videos with co-workers
  • Making sexual or vulgar gestures
  • Telling lewd jokes
  • Asking about a co-worker’s sexual history or sexual orientation
  • Making offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity

If You Witness Harassment

If you are being harassed, it may be difficult for you to decide to speak out and complain —  especially if the harasser is your manager or superior. But if you are a witness to such abuse, you may be questioning what you should do about the situation. It can be awkward and confusing, but this type of behavior should not be allowed to continue.

The most important thing you need to do if you see sexual harassment in the workplace is speak up. This is always your first course of action, whether you see the harassment or you’re the victim. If you see or experience sexual harassment or gender discrimination, speak to your human resources manager or your superior. It is the responsibility of a superior to report these types of complaints to the employer so they can be investigated.

You should also document what you have seen in case you are asked about the incident in the future. You should become familiar with your employer’s policies (if any) concerning sexual harassment.

You may be worried about retaliation if you report what you believe is sexual harassment.  Although retaliation may be a legitimate concern, it is also illegal.

Learn Your Legal Options

If you are being sexually harassed at work in Connecticut, you should contact the sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., for an evaluation of your situation and advice on how to proceed.

Share this Post

sexual harassment garrison levin epstein

You deserve justice. We are here to fight for you.

Let Us Review Your Case

We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Client Experiences

During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

Ethan Levin-Epstein represented me during a most painful and challenging crisis in my personal and professional life. Seeing me within 24 hours of being referred, his support and advocacy, wisdom and clarity not only resulted in a favorable negotiated outcome for me and for my family, but gave me peace of mind and the courage to recover. I am very grateful to have met Ethan and his team and would refer anyone in need to this haven. — C.L., Guilford, CT

You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

Proven Results & Personalized Attention When You Need It Most

American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Back to Top