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If I am a victim of sexual harassment, whom do I have to tell?

Many Detroit area employees who have been the target of unwanted sexual advances, lewd jokes and the like may not really want to talk about their experience with anyone, much less someone whom they see as having more power and authority than themselves.

After all, sexual harassment is a scary, embarrassing experience that can leave someone traumatized, which is just one of many reasons why the law prohibits it. It can be hard for a victim to talk to anyone about such an experience, especially someone who holds the victim's job in his or her hands.

However, the drawback to not reporting sexual harassment internally is that, at least in some cases, it could mean an employer cannot later be held accountable for the sexual harassment. In other words, employers are not expected to prevent every instance of harassment at the hands of a co-worker, a subordinate or even a third party, but they are expected to have procedures in place for dealing with it should it occur.

One example may be that a group of colleagues or an individual, even someone who has a lot of power in the company generally, engages in sexual harassment, but since the victim does not attempt to report the incident up an established chain of command, the employer can argue that it had a system in place to stop such behavior had it known about it.

It is therefore important for a victim of sexual harassment to know what his or her company's policy is and to avail himself or herself of those channels, no matter how hard it may be to do so. When doing so, it is important to remember that an employer may not punish the victim in any way for making a report. Moreover, if the person does follow the policy, and the harassment continues, then the victim can seek justice against the harasser and his or her employer in court.

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