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Sexual harassment is not only about blatant offers made during a business trip or physical harassment. It's any sexually suggestive situation that is felt to be undesirable. It is worth reacting immediately, because the molester is not always aware that he has violated someone's boundaries.

Sexual harassment in the workplaceis behavior against the will of the victim, violating the personal dignity of the employee, as well as causing him to believe that the objection will negatively affect his employment conditions or prevailing relationships in the workplace.

Surveys and estimates show that 40-50% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Meanwhile, in 2014, the number of inquiries was only 112. The conclusion can be drawn that most cases are not disclosed at all or only the most drastic ones are disclosed. Or, the concept of sexual harassment is not associated with certain behaviors. It is not just about physical solicitation or blackmailing someone into intercourse. When a supervisor or colleague addresses a co-worker with a caressing diminutive ("let me, baby"), tells dirty jokes in her presence, tries to flirt with bold compliments, sends erotic e-mails or violates her personal space, e.g. trying to her he hugs or every moment peeks over her shoulder and ostentatiously inhales her scent - all this can also qualify as sexual harassment.

You set the limits

Behaviors of this type are sometimes part of a specific "culture" in teams where women and men work together, and - contrary to appearances - not only women are the addressees of them. They are also not always perceived as something unpleasant or offensive, violating dignity. Not all sexual behavior is harassment - it becomes an unlawful act from the moment when the abused person clearly and unequivocally expresses his objection. This is where the line between acceptable behavior and harassment is.

By definition, sexual harassment is subjectively unpleasant for the person concerned, and above all - unacceptable and undesirable. So if you feel discomfort, you need to say it out loud - a clear signal to the person who is you is needednagabi, otherwise the conflict will escalate, and in due course it may be argued that if you did not protest, you were accepting such behavior as natural. Disagreeing with them is the first step you need to take.

Express your objection

It is best to have such a conversation as soon as you feel that your limits are being violated. If you think it is appropriate and possible, talk to witnesses. Try to speak calmly, but do not smile and apologize because you are not at fault. Specifically and factually describe what behavior is unpleasant or offensive to you, explain why, and indicate that you do not want it in the future. Do not give in to an attempt to belittle or disregard your feelings, do not enter into a discussion that "dilutes" the problem. When you have finished what you have to say, walk away. The shorter the message, the more understandable it will be. Your interlocutor will receive a clear signal that his behavior is unwelcome. Now it is only up to him to apologize and stop giving you questionable promotions. It could be that he meant nothing wrong - sometimes a man thinks that erotically tinged compliments, jokes or sexual offers directed at a woman flatter her. Explaining to him in a quiet conversation that this is not the case at all may solve the problem.


Step by step: how to defend yourself against harassment

When you are a subject of sexual harassment at work:

  1. Report an objection to the perpetrator of the harassment - tell him firmly that you do not want this behavior.
  2. If this does not work, report the matter in writing to your supervisor, also submit a written report to the human resources department with a request to attach to your personnel documentation. Do not forget to include the receipt on the copy of the application.
  3. If the employer does not react to your application, report the matter to the National Labor Inspectorate and to the labor court.
  4. Bring charges against the perpetrator of sexual harassment to a civil court.

Harassment signal to the employer

However, if the molester has obviously bad intentions and continues to harass you, or worse, blackmails, threatens with termination or persuades other employees to harass and insult you, the next step should be to report the matter to the employer, and if the molester is the owner companies - reporting the fact of harassment to the National Labor Inspectorate. The Labor Code includes the obligation to respect the dignity and other personal rights of the employee (Art. 11) and the prohibition of discrimination (Art. 113), one of the manifestations of which is sexual harassment.

Art. 183a § 6 reads: “discriminating on the grounds ofgender is also any undesirable behavior of a sexual nature or relating to the sex of an employee, the purpose or effect of which is to violate the dignity of the employee, in particular creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere towards him, this behavior may include physical, verbal or non-verbal elements. "

Sexual harassment may take the form of mobbing, i.e. actions or behavior related to or directed against an employee, consisting in persistent or prolonged harassment or intimidation, causing the employee to under-evaluate his professional suitability, causing or aimed at humiliating or ridiculing him, isolating or eliminating from a team of colleagues. Pursuant to Art. 943 of the Labor Code, the employer is obliged to counteract mobbing. An employee whose he alth has been affected by mobbing may claim an appropriate sum from the employer as a monetary compensation for the harm suffered, and if he terminated the employment contract as a result of mobbing, he has the right to claim compensation from the employer in the amount not lower than the minimum remuneration for work. Finally, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with safe working conditions (art. 15 and art. 94 points 2b, 4, 9, 10).

Referring to these provisions, as a molested person in the workplace, you have the right to demand protection, above all, from your employer. Before you report harassment, make a note of the situations in which it happened, and whether there were any witnesses - look for allies among them, as you may need their testimony. Collect any other evidence - e-mails, notes, text messages, recordings. Report harassment in writing - make an official note and submit it to your employer, and deliver a copy to the Human Resources department for inclusion in your personnel records. Ask for a receipt on your copy. In a situation where your employer knows that sexually unlawful conduct has occurred and will not do anything about it, or even retaliate against you, reporting will facilitate your further claims in court.

This will be useful to you

Harassment at work

Verbal harassment is, for example, comments about appearance, clothing or body, indecent suggestions, making inappropriate jokes, questions or comments about intimate life, requests or requests for sexual activity, sexual blackmail - demanding sex in exchange for promotion or failure to terminate. Non-verbal harassment can include appraising looks or the presentation of sexually explicit material. Harassment is the most seriousphysical: touching, pinching, hugging, kissing, forced into sexual activity, rape.

Pursuing rights in court

Pursuant to Art. 183a § 7 of the Labor Code, taking actions against sexual harassment may not cause any negative consequences for the employee. If your application to the employer does not bring the desired effect, and you are faced with, for example, demotion or dismissal under any pretext or pretext, you can appeal to the court with reference to the above provision. It is the employer who will then have to prove that his decisions were caused solely by objective criteria, and were not a consequence of the rejection of the proposal in a situation of sexual blackmail. You can claim that the termination notice is invalid or reinstated under the previous conditions (if your employment contract has already been terminated), or that you be awarded appropriate compensation.

You can also pursue your rights in a civil court, accusing your persecutor on the basis of Art. 23 and art. 24 of the Civil Code. These articles concern the protection of personal rights, incl. dignity, bodily inviolability, sexual freedom. You can apply for the cessation of actions that threaten or violate your personal rights, and in the event of a breach already committed, you can request that the actions necessary to remove the consequences of their violation be performed; in this situation, you are also en titled to a claim of monetary compensation for the harm suffered or payment of an appropriate amount of money for the indicated social purpose.

Why you should fight harassment at work

It often happens that people abused because of fear of losing their job or because of shame do nothing about their case - and eventually, after some time, tired of the situation, they just quit their jobs. It is possible to understand a person who is long-term harassed and humiliated that he does not want to expose himself to further stresses related to the official pursuit of his rights and telling the court about how his dignity has been violated. However, withdrawing not only will not solve her problem, but also gives the perpetrator a feeling of impunity. If the abuser sees that he or she may not fear the consequences, he will harass more victims. On the contrary, punishing him can act as an example to deter other potential offenders. And for a victim, a judgment in a sexual harassment case may mean not only material benefits - it is extremely important, above all, to provide moral compensation and regain a sense of dignity, which in many cases even heals the psyche of the abused person.

It is worth it - for our own good and for the good of the whole -pursue your rights, and if you feel that you cannot cope with the task, contact one of the organizations that provide assistance to crime victims, e.g. the Women's Rights Center Foundation, or seek legal advice.

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