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    Fighting back against sexual harassment in the dental industry

    How to identify, handle and combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

     

    What if you are in a small-practice situation and the harasser is in a position of authority? Sometimes there is no one else to go to, and in that situation, your next choice is to say something to the harasser. I recommend you say it early, before the situation becomes even worse.

    Confrontation is not easy, but it is often important. Try one of these:

    ·       “I don’t want to hear that, nor do I like it.”

    ·       “That [joke/picture/comment/word] offends me and makes me uncomfortable. Please stop.”

    ·       “I don’t want to be a part of this.”

    ·       “I love it here, except for these jokes.”

    ·       “I have had to talk to someone else about this, and they agree, this is not okay.”

    There’s no silver bullet. But statements like these may get the harasser’s attention and leave no room for doubt as to your tolerance. Note that if you ever feel physically threatened, or so affected by the harassment that you can’t do your job, you need to seek help from outside of the situation. That could mean talking to a manager, another employee, or someone in authority outside of the business—even the police in worst-case instances, or the EEOC if you feel your complaint has resulted in an adverse action against you. You don’t always have to go nuclear, but just telling someone and not keeping the problem bottled up inside can often lead to solutions you may not have considered.

    Trending article: Do you have a practice bully?

    Everyone deserves a comfortable work environment

    There’s a lot more advice we give managers about handling harassment situations, but I want to close by telling you that without exception, all people, male or female, must be able to come to work in an environment that feels safe and comfortable. Sometimes a risqué joke is made at work, and everybody laughs and moves on, but all too often, these situations become something else. Something ugly—and it’s a type of aggression that can poison a business.

    Here’s my best guidance if this is a situation you’re facing in your workplace right now, and this is what I would say to my wife, my sister or my friend: I am sorry this is happening to you. The longer it goes on, the worse it may become. You need to say something. 

    Paul Edwards
    Paul Edwards is the CEO and Co-Founder of CEDR HR Solutions (www.cedrsolutions.com), which provides individually customized employee ...

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