HR Expert's Advice for Handling Sexual Harassment at Work: Part 5

Cynthia Shapiro offers her opinion on what to do when being sexually harassed before filing an official complaint to HR.
3:38 | 11/19/16

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Transcript for HR Expert's Advice for Handling Sexual Harassment at Work: Part 5
Reporter: "The wolf of wall Street" showcased rampant harassment in the seven-figure world of finance. Sexual harassment is not just something that happens in, you know, guy-dominated industries. Women deal with it all the time. Reporter: Everywhere. In every industry, everywhere. Reporter: Even the diner down the street. Waitress Lauren Jones said she learned that the hard way. She went to the restaurant manager after her supervisor grabbed her while she was working. Out of nowhere I felt a firm grab on my behind, a feeling that I knew couldn't have been a mistake. And I asked him, "What the hell are you doing?" Reporter: Lauren says she didn't want to sue. She just wanted him to stop. She was relieved when the restaurant owner and his H.R. Rep called her into a meeting. But her husband Marvin was suspicious. I told her when you go in there, you need to take your phone, you need to record because it's not going to go well for you. Reporter: So Lauren hit record on her phone and headed in. The problem is that you've been with us less than a month. I agree. He's been with us 15 years. I agree. And has never had anybody ever accuse him of anything. I agree. Because he's never done anything. Okay. So that's our position right now. Reporter: The managers mention mistakes she made in training. They warn her that false trial testimony could land her in jail. Lauren starts to break down. This is really how you're gonna treat me right now? Yes, ma'am. I don't want your money. I don't want nothing from you. All I want to do is keep my job and be happy like I have been. Well, the best thing for us is -- I don't want nothing. For you to find a job somewhere else. Okay. Then I will see you in court. Have a good day. So am I fired? I need to know right now. I'm not quitting. I'm not quitting. We don't want you to quit. We're terminating you, right now. You're terminated. Have a good day. Reporter: She went to the eeoc. It couldn't judge whether her claim was legitimate. But it did clear her to sue. She hasn't brought a suit. She can't afford it. The restaurant chain insists it only fired her for performance problems. She's very courageous. Reporter: Unfortunately, former H.R. Executive Cynthia Shapiro says Lauren made some key mistakes. She told them that she didn't want to sue. Don't share that. Reporter: Don't give away your leverage. And don't go on one isolated incident. Reporter: She warns rushing to H.R. Right away may not always be the answer. We walk into H.R. They're usually a sympathetic presence. They're very easy to talk to. And they're the ones in charge of benefits and barbecues and all those nice things. And they'll say, "Oh, that's terrible. Okay, we're gonna take your whole statement." But you're not giving a statement to someone who really has your best interest at heart. Reporter: H.R. Is being paid by the company. Yes. Reporter: And they're paid to protect the company. Above all else. Reporter: Unless you feel you're in danger, you need at least three incidents, Shapiro says. Protect yourself by documenting everything. And try and ask your harasser to stop. Only then is it safer to make an official complaint to H.R. Only move forward if you really feel like it's so egregious, you will have to leave the company if it doesn't get taken care of. Reporter: That's a pretty high bar. It is a high bar -- Reporter: Especially if that paycheck is feeding my children. Retaliation is illegal, but it happens all the time. People have had their careers heavily damaged by doing, you know, quote, unquote, "The right thing." They just didn't know how to do it the right way.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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