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What should you do if you're being harassed in the workplace?

If you're being harassed at work, it may feel like you're alone. However, the law is supposed to protect you. Federal and state laws prohibit harassment of Arizona employees because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, disability and other characteristics.

There are steps that you can and should try to take if you're being harassed. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which helps employees who are suffering harassment and/or discrimination, recommends the following:

Start by telling your harasser(s) to stop. Unfortunately, some people don't realize that what they're doing or saying is harassment. If someone really thought they were just kidding around, this should stop them. It may also stop someone who had a darker motive.

If that doesn't work, or if you don't feel comfortable confronting the person who's harassing you, find out what your company's anti-harassment policy is. It should be available on the business's website, in the employee handbook or on a flyer or poster in a common area like the lunch room.

If you can't find it, ask someone in the human resources (HR) department or in a supervisory position for a copy. Then follow it. Keep a record of all the steps you take, to whom you talk and when.

If your employer doesn't have an anti-harassment policy, tell your supervisor or the harasser's supervisor. Ask them to put a stop to the behavior. If one of those people is your harasser, find someone else in authority in your organization and report the harassment to them.

Remember that under the law, you have a right to report harassment without suffering any kind of retaliation, up to and including losing your job. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that it won't happen. Employers can find all kinds of reasons for demoting or terminating employees. However, remember the law is on your side.

You can file a claim with the EEOC for harassment and/or wrongful termination. If you're fired or you quit and you don't receive your final paycheck, you can go to the Arizona Department of Labor to file a claim. An experienced Arizona employment law attorney can also provide assistance and work to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

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