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8 next steps to take if you’ve been sexually harassed at work

Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 9:47 AM

What to Do If You're Sexually Harassed at Work

With high-profile allegations in the entertainment industry and political scene making headlines, victims are getting positive reinforcement for coming forward to report sexual harassment.

»RELATED: Sexual harassment in the workplace: What is it, how to report it and more you should know


But it's still a harsh and hard situation for women (and some men) in those industries, along with workers in virtually every segment of the American workforce. Occurrences are so common that a 2015 Cosmopolitan study found 1 in 3 women said they experienced sexual harassment at work, even though Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has made it illegal for more than half a century. "Men have more social status," Georgetown University management professor Catherine Tinsley explained in Fast Company, adding that such sexual advances are a power play, a way to put an assertive woman in her place. "That's not the way it should be," she emphasized. "It's the way it is." 
It's essential to report sexual harassment, but victims must take consider several precautions before reporting, according to leading industry experts.

Here are eight steps to take if you've been sexually harassed at work, based on advice contributed by sources as diverse as Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, the American Association of University Women and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Know the definition. "Very generally, 'sexual harassment' describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature," according to the American Association of University Women. What makes it illegal is that it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 
It's worth noting that the federal law applies to employers with 15 or more employees, which includes federal, state and local governments; private and public colleges and universities; employment agencies and labor organizations. It's not the kind of thing you report to the police or that leads to jail time, but since sexual harassment is against the law, victims can file civil lawsuits against their harassers and sue for monetary damages. 
Steve Cadigan, founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures, told Fast Company that it's also important to understand that a sexual harassment claim doesn't have to include behavior that is strictly sexual. "Under the law, sexual harassment is 'creating a hostile work environment' that by definition is fairly broad," Cadigan said. Sexual harassment can also involve co-workers or bosses who are the same gender.

Make sure you know your state's laws relating to sexual harassment before you report anything.(Contributed by adn.com/For the AJC)

Find out if your state will protect you. State laws punishing sexual harassment and other discrimination vary wildly, as do the statutes of limitations governing how long you have to file a claim. Be sure to check out your state's laws in this area before you go any further with a sexual harassment claim or even talk about it. Knowing your stuff means you can "print out a copy of the statute, march right into HR and say, 'Here's this law that protects me,'" Elizabeth Gedmark, an attorney at A Better Balance: The Work & Family Legal Center, told Cosmopolitan.

»RELATED: Woman says she lost work hours after reporting sexual harassment

Act within the 180-day window of opportunity. Employees at companies with more than 15 employees can make a complaint to the EEOC, but you must file it within 180 days of when the sexual harassment occurred.

Understand your company's obligations. "You can never be fired for raising the issue, but know that when you escalate, [the company's leadership] is compelled to investigate, and they can't necessarily do it anonymously," Tinsley noted. Officers of the company are required to report any claim of sexual harassment brought to their attention, noted Cadigan, both because it potentially involves sexual harassment and because an employee might be breaking the law at work. 
"There is no way you can assure that you will not be fired or blackballed for making a claim of sexual harassment," Cadigan said. The EEOC found that charges of retaliation linked to sexual discrimination claims grew to about 40,000 in 2015, which is more than double the number in 1997.


Manage your expectations of human resources. While you might think of HR as your ally in the system, it's important to remember that HR employees are paid to act in the best interest of the company. In most cases, "Going to HR is a box you need to check in order to give your employer the chance to do things properly before you can pursue other options," like a lawsuit, Deborah Marcuse, an employment attorney at Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec in Pittsburgh told Cosmopolitan. "Don't go in expecting an advocate." In the best case scenario, HR will hear you out as a neutral party; at worst, they could take sides with the company over you and even be overtly unpleasant.

Set up a defense against possible retaliation. Understand going in that HR does not have to keep your conversation confidential, advised Cosmopolitan, and your report of sexual harassment could get back to your manager. Make certain you document all meetings with HR, including details about who you met with and when and what you talked about. "Too often we see people where HR might try and deny that they ever spoke to them," Gedmark noted. You can also record your meetings with HR and other company officials, but only after determining that it's legal to record a conversation without the other person's consent in your state.
Also, find out if your company has a policy that protects whistleblowers from retaliation. If they do, read it and print it out.

Document from start to finish. Take notes or write up memos of disturbing meetings, phone calls or conversations immediately after they happen so the details are fresh in your mind. If you were sexually harassed digitally, save voicemails and emails and screenshot Slack chats and texts and print them all out -- just not at the office. Bring the printouts to the meeting.

Step through the process carefully. Write down what you plan to say to report the harassment ahead of time, adding as many specifics as possible, and practice your talk with someone you trust who doesn't work with you, Cadigan added. Ask for a meeting with the person you choose in your chain of command and invite the appropriate executive from HR.

Once you have expressed your complaint, ask: "Do you think this behavior is acceptable at this company?" If those you are reporting to admit it's wrong, note that in writing for future reference. In fact, visibly document everything they say, and ask them to slow down if needed. At the conclusion of the meetup, thank them and ask what the next steps are.

How to win an argument at work - or stop one before it starts

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 4:52 PM

Here's how to get a promotion anywhere in the world Understand what the hiring process looks like in your company Let the company know you want a promotion Make sure your values are in line with the company Make sure you have developed Emotional Intelligence Manage your stress levels

No one expects to navigate the work world without the occasional argument. And it's nice to "win" when you're in the right.

»RELATED: Does birth order affect you in the workplace?

But what really matters more than besting your manager or co-workers in an argument is how you handle the conflicts that are an inevitable part of work, according to a Forbes piece co-written by Travis Bradberry and Joseph Grenny.

"A persistent finding in both of our research is that your ability to handle moments of conflict has a massive impact on your success," they said. "How you handle conflict determines the amount of trust, respect and connection you have with your colleagues."

Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne gave tips for winning arguments in any setting in Psychology Today, borrowing ideas from Israeli psychologist Eran Halperin about political conflict and interpreting them on a personal, rather than global, level.

"In an argument, your appraisal that you're losing, your belief that you need to be 'right' and the extent to which you like the other person can all have an impact on the emotions you experience," she wrote. "Your emotions can also get aroused by the desire to gain the respect of onlookers - no one enjoys being made to look ignorant in front of others, and when you feel that you're being made the fool, your outrage only increases."

Anger pretty much kills your ability to win an argument in any sense of the word "win," Whitbourne said. Instead of building to an outraged furor, she recommended six key, argument-winning tools:

Know your facts

Whitbourne reminded people of all the times they made a claim about a bit of trivia, quickly realized they were wrong, and then stuck to their guns anyhow. "This is not an ideal way to win (or enter) an argument." Stop and think before you make a blooper and you'll be less likely to lose an argument, whether it's trivial or actually important to your career.

Prepare to acknowledge the other person's point of view

You don't have to agree with your foe, but if you want to win the argument, "you do need to be able to see the world the way your opponent does. Stepping into the mental set of those you argue with allows you to figure out what's influencing them. Perhaps they're feeling threatened, anxious, or annoyed. Perhaps they know something that you don't. In any case, showing empathy will lower the temperature of the debate."

Try to be, or at least seem, open-minded

"Becoming defensive is one of the worst ways to win an argument. Don't let your opponent sense that you're digging into your position without being willing to consider alternatives. And if you let your opponent speak, he might come to your side without your having to do anything other than listen."

»RELATED: 7 steps to transition from a 9-to-5 to a full-fledged entrepreneur

Keep your emotions in check

Halperin's research revealed how important emotions are in determining your ability to appraise situations. "If you lose your temper, you'll only antagonize your opponent, which will further heighten his or her wrath, and the process can only escalate upwards," Whitbourne explained. Worried that you'll seem weak if you suddenly become calm in the middle of the argument? Don't worry. You'll gain points by showing self-control.

Stay hopeful that the argument can be resolved

Arguments can stir up negative emotions. If you're in the midst of a screaming fest, it's tough to envision a resolution where you still have your dignity intact. But strive to stay optimistic. "Invoking the feeling of hope allows you to think more clearly, leading to the possibility that you'll win by sheer force of logic." If you believe there's a way out, you're more likely to find one. "This is what happens in ordinary problem-solving, when thinking outside of the box can help all sides come up with a solution. Such an 'aha' moment in an argument can lead you straight to victory."

Respect your opponent

You may not emerge as the clear victor in an argument, or you may get your way but make your business relationship worse. It's important not to insult or degrade your opponent during the conflict. "Even if the individual is someone you'll never see again, it's still important to show that you meant 'nothing personal' in the dispute."

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8 easy, money-making side gigs for teens 

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 1:29 PM

Employment bloggers recommended these eight part-time jobs for full-time teens Barista Juice/smoothie shop cashier Lifeguard Caddy Product merchandiser Car wash attendant Packing and moving services Photo scanner and archivist

Whether it's the teen who'd like extra money for things like clothes or gas or a parent who'd like to see their high school or college-aged child get off the couch when school’s out, a part-time job can be a wonderful thing.

»RELATED: Apple hiring for work from home positions

Of course, child labor laws dictate how young is too young to work and what hours (and under what conditions) older teens can work. They'll eliminate a few job options for teens, but there are still plenty of places to work. 

Just keep in mind a few things, according to the team at Localwise: "It's important to be able to get to your job easily and relatively stress-free." They also advised teens to make sure the job fits with their schedule and note any unique experience a job might require before applying.

»Localwise and other employment bloggers recommended these eight part-time jobs for full-time teens:

A barista pours a cup of coffee at Colson Patisserie on February 22, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)(Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)

Barista: "Working as a barista will hone your skills at making the perfect cup," Localwise noted. If you can hack the early morning shifts, it also gives you a chance to become a coffee snob.

Juice/smoothie shop cashier: "The only thing you need to know going into this job is how not to stick your hand into a blender," Localwise joked. There is also a little math involved, so overall this job is great for teens looking for money-handling experience or who are interested in non-greasey fast food work.

Lifeguard: Localwise considers this job as "close to Super Hero as it gets." While lifeguard jobs can involve winter hours at health clubs and indoor pools, they're more likely to be available in the warm months. Check into water parks too. Be sure to find out where you'll get your CPR training and lifeguard certification - and who pays for it.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to his new caddie Harry Diamond during a preview day of the World Golf Championships.

Caddy: One of Localwise's "best paying jobs for teens," caddies can make $50 to $100 in a day, sometimes in cash, and you can choose your own hours. You do need to know your way around a golf course and be able to walk and lift equipment, though. 

Product merchandiser: Teens can flourish on the sales floor of a shop, restocking, taking inventory and styling display mannequins. Expect to make around $12.50 per hour in this position, according to Localwise.

Car wash attendant: Money Crashers highly recommended working at a car wash for students who like to stay busy at work, like to have a shiny car themselves (since they can probably get washing services free) and would appreciate the occasional tip in adddition to minimum wage.

For the fit teen who needs a flexible schedule, Money Crashers recommends a side hustle as a residential packer and mover.(Contributed by Money Crashers/For the AJC)

Packing and moving services: If you like to stay active and are organized, look into working for a bonded and insured moving company as an assistant for packing and moving personal possessions.

Photo scanner and archivist: Teens whose schedules are chock-full of activities and high-pressure homework can still take on work if they concentrate on side hustles instead of employer-based schedules, according to Money Crashers. One good idea scanning and archiving documents and photos. "No one has the time to tackle this time-consuming task," Money Crashers noted. 

How to help your teen get a job

It's a good idea for parents to stay involved in the job-seeking process, according to Readers Digest Canada. They recommended these steps:
  • Keep the resume current. Get a jump on other summer job seekers by polishing resumes as soon as kids decide they want employment. Check with your child's high school, community job centers and job-seeking websites for help. Review the job history section yourself, reminding your child of any assets, awards or experience she may have neglected to include. "We look for sports, drama, yearbook - anything that shows the applicant doesn't just watch TV," Jim Shaw, franchise owner of 11 Tim Horton's restaurants in Nova Scotia, told the magazine.
  • Brainstorm references. Be ready to provide reference letters from teachers, coaches, baby-sitting clients, your minister or a family friend.
  • Practice the interview. Pretend you're the employer asking questions. For a real confidence boost, have your teen write down and rehearse answers. Keep in mind that employers are mostly looking for enthusiasm from teen employees. 
  • Pound the pavement. Teenagers need to be on the lookout for "Help Wanted" signs, but they can also approach businesses that appeal to them but aren't hiring at the moment. The student who checks in every now and then is the one who will come to mind when that business finally has an opening.

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8 ways to stop wasting money at work 

Published: Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 4:56 PM

Telecommuting is on the rise, and can save you big. See if you’re cut out for it, and if so, here’s a way to find work.

Certainly, it's ironic that it costs money to work to make money to pay your bills. But if you haven't considered how much you spend on the expenses of working, from commutes to coffee, you may be missing significant ways to cut back your personal expenses.

These tactics are even more important if you're considering cutting back on your work hours in the near future, or another upcoming event in your life will necessitate saving money in all areas.

»RELATED: 5 surefire ways to get to retire earlier than you thought

Cutting back on work expenses may be far easier than you think, according to frugal bloggers. And there are side benefits like improved health from walking instead of always taking a cab, or packing a lunch instead of eating fast food.

Here are eight quick money-saving ideas to consider:

Consider sharing your ride. If your work involves a lengthy commute, or even a short one, you may be kissing hundreds of dollars a year goodbye in commute expenses. One way to save the big bucks, according to Marie Claire, is simply to find someone to carpool with. If you're feeling adventurous, check out erideshare.com to hitch a ride with a friend you haven't met yet.

Cut gas costs while you're driving. Keep your heater or AC on just long enough to get your car to the right temperature, or roll down your windows to save gas money.

Double check the bus and train fares. Marie Claire suggested re-checking your route and pinpointing the place at which your commuting fare goes up. "If you can save a few bucks a day by getting off two blocks earlier, it might be worth the extra cash," it noted.

Walk on by expensive hosiery. If you're habitually spending $40 a pair for hosiery that adheres to your company's dress code, cut it out, Real Simple recommended. "That $40 pair may take a little longer to ladder, but in winter especially, you're usually better off buying multiple pairs of cheaper tights than one or two pairs of expensive ones, New York-based image consultant Annie Brumbaugh told RS. 

If you're in a white-collar career, buy one really good jacket. Instead of spending lots of time and money coming up with new business outfits each week, buy a quality jacket and base your wardrobe on that. "A very good jacket can do a lot for your overall look," Brumbaugh said. "You could wear just a T-shirt and jeans, but an expensive, fabulous jacket upgrades your outfit." RS advised to look for a jacket that fits the widest part of your body and if your bust is large, buy a jacket that will close over your chest. In any case, have a reputable tailor fit the jacket so you can wear it with several outfits a week.

Protect those expensive work shoes. Instead of buying lots of inexpensive shoes that won't last or continually replacing one high-quality pair, Brumbaugh recommended buying high quality in a style you can wear daily. To protect that investment, have your good work shoes weatherproofed and the soles reinforced with rubber at a shoe repair shop.

A packed lunch will always save money over eating out, but only if you choose items you'll actually eat.(Contributed by Bicycling.com/For the AJC)

Break the fast food lunch habit. Eating lunch from home instead of greasy fast food may be one of the easiest ways to start saving money, according to the Balance. "Food prices are going up, and it is common to spend around $7.00 or $8.00 a meal at a fast food restaurant," it said. "If you add this up for lunches, it would be around $40 a week or $200 a month. This is just for one person for one meal."

To make eating lunch at work easier, the Balance recommended packing a lunch the night before and carrying it to a park to eat if you can't bear to stay at your desk while you eat. "Frozen dinners and soup are a good fallback for the days you didn't have time to prep a lunch," the Balance noted.

Kick the big bucks coffee habit. According to the Good Financial Cents blog, it's easy to spend $4 per cup or up to $80 per week on coffee. To cut the habit, GFC recommended flavoring your own coffee with spices, eating a piece of fruit for an energy boost in the afternoon instead of drinking coffee, and at the very least, looking for gift cards to your favorite cafes on eBay and Craigslist to save money.

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6 signs it's time to break up with your workplace friend

Published: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

Here are five of the most common toxic colleagues The Flake: factor in their anticipated laziness when you're given a project with a lazy co-worker The Betrayer: they'll throw you under the bus the second a project goes wrong, so protect your ideas by sending a memo of your thoughts The Full-time Downer: spend as little time with them as possible The Office Gossip: keep your personal details close and limit this co-worker's access to your social media posts The Narcissist: keep your expectations of what t

Since you spend so much time at work, of course you want to have friends there! But whether you're enjoying the nonphysical, non-romantic friendship of a "work spouse" or have numerous buddies at the office, some friendships do more harm than good.

»RELATED: 5 of the most toxic co-workers and how to deal with them

According to workplace and psychology experts, these are six signs you might need to end a workplace friendship:

Your friend needs you... all the time. "Women tend to rely on their friends more heavily for emotional sustenance," Irene S. Levine, psychologist and author of Best Friends Forever, told Real Simple. "But if someone is constantly depending on you, that's when it's toxic." An overly-needy buddy will exhaust you and take up precious workplace time, with demands that range from acting as her consultant on every decision to requesting financial help.

You're on a rollercoaster. Similar to off-hours friendships, a workplace friendship that goes up and down and around might need to come to an end, according to Levine. "The unpredictability takes a toll on you," she said. "It can make you anxious, nervous, or depressed when you don't know what to expect from a friend whom you're supposed to rely on."

Your "work spouse" is showing signs of too much attachment. If your go-to work partner is now closing the door each time you meet, scheduling lots of after-hours activities that don't really have much to do with work or spending every hour in your cubicle, you may want to pull back a bit, according to Monster.com. Even if you don't have a spouse waiting at home, you want co-workers to know that your workplace relationship is on the up and up. Aside from stopping the rumor mill, you also want to let other colleagues know they are appreciated and equal.

A work friend wants you to do their chores.  A friend who's taking advantage of you should cease being a friend, starting tomorrow. You can assume you really are charming and co-workers like spending time with you, but only up to a point, according to U.S. News. If a recent friend, or even a long-time pal, starts asking you to take on some of their work, it's time to question the validity of your connection. "More devious types may simply be the equivalent of that kid who, during group projects, unloaded all the work on you and walked away with an 'A' on the project," U.S. News noted. "You're mature now, so don't let that happen ... again."

Colleagues essentially consider you the same person. If you're so close to a co-worker that people literally cannot distinguish you, your friendship is depriving you of a chance to shine as an individual and take on new challenges, said psychologist Andrea Bonior in Psychology Today. You'll also suffer from any negative parts of your friend's reputation or job performance. "Don't let your bosom-buddyhood keep you from being seen as your own person," Bonior said.

It would be too drastic to end such a friendship, but you should definitely seek other buddies at work, ask to be put on separate projects occasionally and ask others for input when you can, not always your work twin.

Your supposed friend betrays you. A friend who betrays a bond doesn't get a pass just because it happened at work, according to Levine. Don't ignore that gut feeling telling you it's a big deal. Any betrayal is a sign to reevaluate the relationship.

As for setting out on another workplace friendship, there are warning times you should take it slow, Levine told CNN. Note whether a potential friend is jealous, needy or passive-aggressive, she advised. Be especially cautious if one of you is supervising the other, you work in a very competitive environment, or your paychecks are far different. Such friendships should unfold slowly "so you have a good sense of the other person, and know whether the person is trustworthy and has good judgment," Levine added.

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