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What You Should Know: What to Do if You Believe You Have Been Harassed at Work

This guidance document was issued upon approval of the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

OLC Control # EEOC-NVTA-0000-26
Title What You Should Know: What to Do if you Believe you have been Harassed at Work
Date Issued 19-Oct-17
General Topics Harassment, Race, Color, Sex, National Origin, Religion, Age, Disability, Genetic Information
Summary This document provides information to employees on steps they may wish to take if they believe that they have been harassed at work in violation of EEO laws.
Date Posted 19-Oct-17
Statutes/Authorities Involved Title VII, ADEA, Rehabilitation Act, ADA, GINA, 29 CFR Part 1601, 29 CFR Part 1604, 29 CFR Part 1614, 29 CFR Part 1625, 29 CFR Part 1626, 29 CFR Part 1630, 29 CFR Part 1635
Audience Applicants, Employees
Revision No

The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

1)  If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the person who is harassing you to stop.

2)  If you do not feel comfortable confronting the harasser directly, or if the behavior does not stop, follow the steps below:

  1. Check to see if your employer has an anti-harassment policy. This may be on the employer's website. If it's not, check your employee handbook. Finally, you can ask any supervisor (it does not have to be your supervisor) or someone in Human Resources (if your employer has an HR department) whether there is an anti-harassment policy and if so, to give you a copy.
  2. If there is a policy, follow the steps in the policy. The policy should give you various options for reporting the harassment, including the option of filing a complaint.
  3. If there is no policy, talk with a supervisor. You can talk with your own supervisor, the supervisor of the person who is harassing you, or any supervisor in the organization. Explain what has happened and ask for that person's help in getting the behavior to stop.
  4. The law protects you from retaliation (punishment) for complaining about harassment. You have a right to report harassment, participate in a harassment investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment, without being retaliated against for doing so.
  5. You always have an option of filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC to complain about the harassment. There are specific time limits for filing a charge (180 or 300 days, depending on where you work), so contact EEOC promptly. See EEOC's How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination. You can also meet with EEOC to discuss your situation and your options. This conversation is confidential. Note: federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process and different time limits.

Additional information on workplace harassment includes the following: