How to deal with harassment

Updated February 21, 2017

Harassment is any behavior or words directed against you that make you uncomfortable. It can happen at work, school and in public. Harassment makes it hard to do your job. Many types of harassment exist, but the most common types of harassment, sexual or racial, are often against the law. You have the right to work and live free from harassment. Follow these steps to deal with harassment.

Trust your feelings. If you experience discomfort around someone, there's probably a reason. Focus on what's happened. Harassment rarely goes away unless you deal with it

Tell the person harassing you that what he or she did makes you uncomfortable, and you want it to stop. Sometimes people act in ways that they don't consider harassment. Letting someone know that you consider an act as harassment may be enough to stop the behavior.

Talk to friends about what has happened. Harassers operate out of the fear that you won't say anything, which isolates you. You need the support of others to deal with it.

Learn about harassment and the options available to you. Make a plan.

Document all episodes of harassment. Be as exact as you can with dates, times and people. Harassment may be initiated by someone in a supervisory position. Documentation helps your case.

Find out about existing harassment policies where the harassment takes place. Most employers and schools have harassment policies in place that includes a designated person to receive harassment reports. You have the right to go to work or school without being harassed.

Make a legal complaint to a higher authority if harassment continues. Contact an attorney about whether you have grounds for a civil rights complaint.


Habitual harassers enjoy the power they have over others. Take away that power and the harassment stops. You are also entitled to confidentiality when you file grievances for harassment. Suggest staff training and education in recognizing and stopping harassment.

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