Making the right decision when you encounter sexual misconduct in the workplace is one of the most difficult and stressful choices any woman can face. Too often it’s an experience that leaves victims feeling isolated and alone. Many have said they wished they had more information before deciding what to do.
Let’s be crystal clear about one thing at the outset: you have an absolute right in law, and in every basic concept of ethics, to be free in your place of work from unwanted advances, threats, actions, demands, offensive words or physical contact based on your gender. You have a right to a workplace free from sexual assault, sexual harassment or retaliation because you object.
How to deal with sexual misconduct in the workplace when it occurs is a serious career decision. Because the truth is that it can have lasting consequences and life-changing implications. These are often unforeseen, as countless women have discovered, including the founder of The Zero Now Campaign and so many women who have reached out to her over the years. Having the right information about how to handle a situation can be as important as the legal right to be free from it.
At the side of this page you will see links to articles that provide useful decision-making tools. We have also included articles about the risks of going through Human Resources departments. The experience of Kathleen Finlay, The Zero Now Campaign’s founder, is also chronicled in a recent article for Huffington Post. It reveals just how dependent your well-being and economic livelihood are on a whole host of actors when it comes to sexual misconduct outcomes. If one fails to perform their job or acts in a malevolent fashion (the EEOC says that happens in three out of four cases it hears), the risk of further damage occurring to already injured victims is substantially increased. Your outcome might be much better than Kathleen’s, but nevertheless it is a cautionary tale worth knowing.
Every situation, and every decision, is different. This is why The Zero Now Campaign provides a mentoring service, without charge, to help women navigate the process of dealing with sexual misconduct before, during and after the incident. We are one of the few online resources to do this. Many women have found that there is no substitute for the advice and perspective of an actual survivor who has walked in their shoes before. Be sure to check out our 3 Must Knows for Survivor Survival™. They have helped many in your situation.
You can contact us here if you’d like to reach out for support. If you are a survivor, consider contacting us so that you can be part of our mentoring team.
Survivors helping survivors by sharing, learning and supporting are among the biggest weapons for ending sexual misconduct in the workplace and creating a true zero tolerance culture.