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Sexual harassment at work: Know your rights

The following is from the Office of the Attorney General:

OLYMPIA (April 24, 2018) — Attorney General Bob Ferguson last week released a guide designed to be posted in workplaces to educate Washingtonians about their rights regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. The flyer, available in both Spanish and English, lays out the definition and types of sexual harassment, requirements for employers and steps employees can take if they experience sexual harassment.

“Every Washingtonian deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace,” said Ferguson. “Sexual harassment in the workplace is an illegal form of discrimination. This flyer empowers employees by making their rights and options easy to understand.”

Current discussions surrounding sexual harassment, including the #MeToo Movement, prompted Ferguson to issue a flyer as a way of helping those who experience harassment. Free copies of the Attorney General’s Sexual Harassment Law flyer can be downloaded here. 

Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination involving unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct that is based on sex. All forms of sexual harassment are illegal, and employers may be liable for this behavior if they do not take the proper steps to address it. Employers should:

●  Provide procedures for employees who have experienced sexual harassment to report complaints;
●  Thoroughly and promptly investigate complaints of sexual harassment; and
●  Take prompt and effective action to eliminate further sexual harassment in the workplace.

The flyer also provides steps for employees if they witness or experience sexual harassment. To address this unlawful behavior, employees may:

●  Communicate to the harasser or their supervisor that the offensive behavior is unwelcome;
●  Immediately report the incident(s) to management or the human resources department; and/or
●  Report the harassment to the following government agencies: the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, the Washington State Human Rights Commission, and/or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If you witness or experience sexual harassment in the workplace, you may submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit through the Attorney General’s Office website or by contacting the unit toll-free at 800-551-4636.

Para leer esta noticia en español, haga clic aquí.

The Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit works to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. It is named for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.

The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit to learn more.

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