IF YOU SAW SOMETHING, SHOULD YOU SAY SOMETHING?
People who hold traditional jobs might think that the physical boundaries of the work environment exist only within their office building or place of employment. However, in some jurisdictions, courts have held that the work environment may extend to hotels, bars, clubs, and company outings, such as sports events in certain circumstances. Indeed, if employees have gathered in a specific place for a work-specific reason, it is quite possible that they can be considered to be within a work environment.
This extension of the work environment’s definition raises an important question. What can and should you do if you witness a colleague being sexually harassed in the workplace, whether in an office setting or not?
What to Do If You Witnessed Employee Harassment
After witnessing another employee being sexually harassed in a work environment, you should wait until they are no longer fully in public to talk to them about it. When you are in a quieter or more private setting, approach them and let them know that you observed and witnessed the conduct. Be supportive and offer to create a report with your employer.
Going directly to them to discuss the situation is generally the best course, as most companies have policies and procedures in place for reporting sexual harassment that shield them from liability. By coming to them to discuss the incident in an aside, you can give them power over the situation, the assailant, and their employer, hopefully to hold them accountable. It is important to support your colleague in the capacity you would want them to support you, a relative, or a close friend in the same situation.
From all of us at Bonnaig & Associates, LLC, we wish you a fun holiday season, but we also want to remind you to say something if you see something, like sexual harassment at a company holiday party. Along the same lines, if you have been sexually harassed while at work, then you should seek the help of our sexual harassment lawyers in New York right away. Going to Human Resources first can be a mistake, as they are paid to protect your employer from litigation, not you. If it is safe to do so, contact our law firm first to discover your rights and to take appropriate legal action.