In Michigan, sexual harassment is illegal under both state and federal law, meaning that employees who are subjected to sexual harassment at work can pursue a legal claim against their employer. Before filing a government claim or a lawsuit, employees should see if the matter can be resolved internally. Even if it feels like it is too late to report the harassment because the damage has been done, reporting harassment to HR may prevent other employees from being harassed at work.
Unfortunately, HR does not always respond as it should to complaints of sexual harassment. Though HR ought to be there to help employees as well as the company, HR can sometimes be unhelpful to employees because the department feels a loyalty to the company. It is natural for employees to feel scared about reporting sexual harassment to HR, but this fear should not stop employees from complaining. If the company retaliates against the employee for complaining about sexual harassment, this retaliation can also be the basis for a lawsuit.
In some circumstances, employees may feel like they can be direct with their harasser before complaining to HR. If this is the case, employees should tell the harasser that the behavior is making them uncomfortable and that they want it to stop.
When complaining to HR, employees should keep in mind that there are some details that HR is not supposed to disclose. Though HR should conduct an investigation into complaints of sexual harassment, it is not appropriate for them to reveal their conclusions or any subsequent disciplinary actions to the person who made the complaint. However, HR can tell an employee if a matter is or has been investigated. If HR does not take any action in response to a complaint of sexual harassment, employees may want to consult with an employment law attorney.