On Tuesday, Matt Lauer, as the longest-running host in the history of the “Today” show, was the crown jewel of NBC’s news division and commanded a $25 million annual salary. On Wednesday, Lauer was an “unemployed journalist” (per Wikipedia) after being fired by NBC following “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

Lauer is the latest in a string of high profile men accused of sexual harassment in recent weeks.

But we all know that it isn’t just high profile men who harass women.

Sexual harassment is widespread. A 2016 EEOC study showed that one in four women will be the victim of sexual harassment in their workplace. This is a conservative statistic, considering the study saw anywhere from 25% to 85% of women having been the victim of workplace sexual harassment. EEOC also estimates that 75% of those who are victims to these hostile work environments won’t report their harassment.

So why don’t more women report their harassment? Lots of reasons. They feel alone and powerless. In the short term, they worry about losing their job, being harassed and ridiculed by their supervisors and peers, and losing out on future advancements and considerations. In the long term, they worry about being blacklisted and losing out on future job opportunities.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, here are some steps you should consider taking:

  • Speak Up: Tell the offender that his behavior his offensive and you want it to stop. If the offender does not end his behavior immediately, tell him to stop again in writing or in an e-mail (Bcc your personal e-mail account).
  • Document: Every time you are harassed, keep a written record of the date, place, time, and possible witnesses.
  • Talk to HR: Follow your employer’s policies and file a complaint (keep a copy of the complaint for your records). This step is critical. First, it gives your employer knowledge of the situation and the opportunity to fix it. Second, the law often requires you to have taken this step in order to preserve your right to bring a legal claim regarding the harassment.
  • Go to the EEOC: Consider filing a report with the EEOC, which will give you a little more protection from retaliation than if you just report internally in your company.
  • Get a Lawyer: Consult with an employment lawyer who represents workers in labor, employment and civil rights disputes, and advancing employee rights.

I know speaking up about harassment requires tremendous courage. If you are not ready to speak up, that’s okay. But please at least consider talking about it with a trusted friend or family member and taking good care of yourself.  The stress of the harassment and the stress that reporting and dealing with it can cause incredible stress and physical health problems.

I am hopeful that the rising tide of sexual harassment claims will bring about justice for the victims and a cultural change so that the behavior is never tolerated.

What can parents do to stop sexual harassment? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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