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Handling sexual harassment in today's workplace

Of employees who responded to a CareerBuilder survey, 12 percent said that they had been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, 72 percent said that they had not reported the incident to their employer. Workers in California and throughout the country may feel embarrassed or ashamed after being sexually harassed. Many don't report their experiences because they feel like nothing will be done about it or they will face negative repercussions.

Individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most likely to say that they had been sexually harassed. Workers age 55 and older were the least likely to say that they had been the victims of sexual harassment. Regardless of how old a worker is, there are steps that can be taken to report an incident. First, an employee should talk to anyone in the company whom he or she feels comfortable confiding in.

If there is no one an employee feels comfortable talking to, it may be possible to make a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If a company has 15 or more employees, it is generally covered under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many companies have their own anti-harassment policies as well. Victims are urged to document the abuse as well as list names of those who witnessed it.

Companies that don't respond to reports of sexual harassment could be violating employment law. Workers who are victims of such harassment may be entitled to compensation or other relief from their employers. An attorney may review a case to determine if actions were taken that created a hostile workplace. These actions may include asking a person out on a date, asking directly for sexual favors or implying that providing sexual favors are a condition of continued employment.

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