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How do I File a Harassment Complaint?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The process for filing a harassment complaint can vary depending on the particular situation in which you find yourself and in which the harassment occurred. To file a complaint regarding harassment in the workplace, you would typically contact a manager or human resources (HR) associate to formally file your complaint. If you were harassed at school, and you are a student, then you should contact a teacher or other person at the school such as the vice principal or principal. In any situation, however, you should file a harassment complaint officially and promptly to ensure you are protected from further harassment as soon as possible.

A harassment complaint is a formal and official indication that you have been the target of harassment, and that you would like action to be taken to prevent future harassment. Harassment is typically considered to be action or behavior that causes you to feel unduly distressed or threatened. This can consist of: physical actions against you, such as shoving or physical violence; verbal threats or suggestions made toward you, including threats of violence or jokes, comments, and suggestions you find offensive or disturbing; and images that depict offensive material or that indicate a threat against you.

In any type of harassment situation, you should file a harassment complaint as soon as you can after an incident, to ensure you have taken the proper steps to avoid future harassment. You should not laugh or join in with comments made that offend or upset you, as this can be used later as evidence against you and your harassment complaint. Depending on where the harassment takes place, there are a few different ways in which you can file a harassment complaint.

One of the most common places for harassment to occur is in the workplace. If you are the target of harassment in the workplace, then you should contact a manager or HR representative as soon as possible to file a harassment complaint. You can do this privately, though your confidentiality will not be absolute once they begin to investigate a complaint. If a manager was involved in the harassment, then you should go to another manager in your workplace, or contact a manager who works over the one involved in the incident.

Harassment can also occur in school and is often directed at students by teachers or other students. When this occurs, you should talk to a teacher and indicate how you are affected by the harassment and that it distresses you or makes you feel threatened. You may be able to file a harassment complaint with the teacher or the help of the teacher. If you do not receive help, however, then you can contact a principal or vice principal for further assistance in filing your complaint.

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Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Aug 12, 2014

Sometimes, you have to know your staff to know where you really need to file a harassment complaint. Some people will be more sympathetic and interested in doing the right thing than others.

For instance, we don't exactly have a human resources department. If I needed to file that kind of complaint, I'd go to the executive secretary. She's the president's secretary. I've known her for years, and I know she would follow protocol to the letter.

Sometimes, the harasser has no clue that his or her behavior has been objectionable, and that's really sad. That happened at my company. The harasser couldn't think why anyone would file a complaint against him. Mostly, it was his complete lack of couth that made him say things to the female employees that were inappropriate. There was no malice in him; he was just completely socially retarded.

By Scrbblchick — On Aug 11, 2014

Sadly, I'd also have another job lined up in case things go bad with the harassment complaint. I've known bosses who weren't above trying to get an employee to leave by just making their lives miserable after they filed a complaint.

Once in a while, the system works and the harasser loses their job, but it doesn't happen nearly often enough to give me much faith in the reporting system.

I'd like to believe the people who report harassment are always vindicated, but it's not common, to be honest. If the boss doesn’t make them miserable, other co-workers might try to harass them in order to get in good with the boss.

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