Many employers take steps to prevent harassment and protect themselves from legal liability, but what can you do as an employee to ensure you remain free from workplace harassment? Unfortunately, not all company policies effectively avert inappropriate behavior. Unscrupulous employees may still try to take advantage of their fellow co-workers. In New York, although the burden rests on the employer to prevent sexual harassment, you can take steps to help maintain a safe and comfortable work environment.

Here are some basic guidelines for you to follow to avoid potentially uncomfortable and awkward situations at work:

  • Be knowledgeable about company rules and regulations. Know your job’s handbook back to front, and be hyper aware of their anti-harassment policies. If someone crosses the line, you can use that information to stop the abuse.
  • Keep your private life private. If you expose details about your private life to certain unethical colleagues, they may use that information against you.
  • Stay sober at company parties. Becoming intoxicated at a holiday party or company sponsored-event could leave you more vulnerable to unwanted sexual advances and cloud your judgment.
  • Don’t encourage. If your colleague or supervisor tells an inappropriate joke or makes an unwanted advance, try your best to let them know you do not approve. This can be difficult, especially if you feel pressured to “fit in,” but stand your ground.
  • Do not exchange phone numbers. A co-worker may ask for your phone number as guise, and then take advantage of the exchange. If you do not have a legitimate reason for providing your number, politely decline the request.

Just remember — if you are sexually harassed, it is not your fault. Do not carry blame for someone else’s mistakes and hostile conduct. You are the victim in the situation. Sometimes, harassment is completely unavoidable. It can happen to anyone.

If you have been harassed, you have rights. A sexual harassment attorney in New York City can provide guidance on how you should handle the situation.

The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in New York City. For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation or email at