How to handle co-worker sexual harassment?
You have options if you are a federal employee and the victim of sexual harassment at work. First of all, if you experience sexual harassment at a federal agency report the harassment right away to a supervisor. If the harasser is a co-worker tell a supervisor about the harassment so they can stop the harassing behavior. Most agencies, at a minimum, will investigate the claims of sexual harassment and separate the victim from the alleged harasser. Also, document events by keeping tracks of dates, witnesses and what was said or done. Finally, if the harassment does not stop, report the harassment to the agencies EEO Office and initiate an informal EEO complaint.
What to do if a supervisor sexually harasses?
But what happens when the harasser is the supervisor or someone with higher authority over the victim. Recently, a top official at FEMA was accused of sexual harassment. The official was responsible for hiring and personnel policies. He was moved out of his department three times due to his conduct. Yet, he was allowed back each time. When a supervisor is the harasser, the agency can be held immediately liable for the harassment. In order for FEMA, or any agency, to avoid liability they have to show two things. First, the Agency must show that reasonable care was used to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior. Second, that the harassed employees unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the Agency to avoid harm.
An attorney who has represented federal employees in sexual harassment cases can help you successfully navigate the federal EEO process. We represent federal employees who have been sexual harassed in metro Atlanta and nationwide. Call us at 404-474-6414 for more information.