Workplace Problems or Concerns

Adjusting to Your New Environment

When you arrive in the U.S., you should expect that you will need some time to adjust to your new life in the States.

However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, have questions, or just need extra help, your first step should always be to talk with your host employer. It is usually better for your host employer to hear your concerns from you before being contacted by us. It is a common practice in the U.S. to address problems and concerns with either your supervisor or the human resources department. By doing so, you and your employer have the opportunity to work together to fix any issues that may arise during your program.

Your first step should always be to discuss the problem with your host employer, as it is usually better for your host employer to hear your concerns from you before being contacted by us. If you encounter a problem that your employer is unable to address, please contact us directly to assist you. Always contact InterExchange whenever you have a serious concern, even if you’ve already informed your employer.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

It is essential that you treat everyone you encounter with respect. You should also insist on being treated with respect. Harassment or discrimination of any form is never acceptable.

Sexual harassment is behavior of a sexual nature that is uninvited, unwanted, and unwelcomed by the recipient. The behaviors include physical contact, verbal abuse, gestures, jokes, or written messages. If you feel uncomfortable about another employee’s behavior towards you, speak with your supervisor or the human resources department regarding your concerns. Some behavior may simply be a matter of cultural differences, but you have the right to feel comfortable in the workplace.

Sexual harassment includes:

  • Continuous idle chatter of a sexual nature
  • Sexual slurs, innuendos, and other comments about a person’s clothing, body and/or sexual activities
  • Continuous and unwelcome flirting
  • Lewd remarks or suggestive sounds such as whistling, wolf calls, or kissing sounds
  • Implied or overt threats if sexual attention is not given
  • Repeated unsolicited propositions for dates and/or sexual intercourse
  • Jokes or comments based on sex
  • The use of graphics or other materials degrading persons based on their sex
  • Unwelcome touching or ogling
  • Coercion, with the promise of reward
  • Unwanted physical contact such as patting, pinching, stroking or brushing up against the body
  • Attempted or actual kissing or fondling
  • Physical assault
  • Coerced sexual intercourse or rape

It is essential that you treat everyone you encounter with respect, and you should insist on being treated with respect, too! Harassment in any form is never acceptable. Being drunk or getting caught up in the moment is NEVER an excuse for behavior that is disrespectful or hurtful to others. Throughout your program, if you experience any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, please notify InterExchange immediately.

You Could Be a Victim

Who are the victims? Anyone - male or female, young or old - can be the victim of sexual harassment from someone of the opposite, or the same sex. Bosses who promise to assist with changing visa status or offer additional pay or hours in exchange for sexual favors are breaking the law.

Taking Action Against the Sexual Harasser

If you are being harassed, take action to stop it. Some options available to you are:

  • Say no. Make it loud and clear. A harasser does not expect confrontation.
  • Keep records of all incidents and confrontations.
  • Find witnesses or others who will back up your claim.
  • Get support from a friend, employer, or anyone else you trust. Make sure you don’t keep it to yourself. The more help you get, the faster the harasser will stop.
  • Call InterExchange immediately. We are available 24/7 at our emergency hotline 917.373.0994.
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

Sexism, Racism and Homophobia

  • Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on sex. It may be less direct than sexual harassment.
  • Racism is the hatred, intolerance, or negative attitude towards another race or other races.
  • Homophobia is the hatred or fear of homosexuals or people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT).

If you think you may be being treated unfairly because of your sex, race, or sexual orientation, get support from someone you trust and call InterExchange to discuss the issue. We are always here to assist you!

For more information visit The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at


Companies in the U.S. are typically not permitted to discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, religion, or ethnic origin. Some companies also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

It is best to discuss your host employer’s anti-discrimination policy with human resources so you can be sure that you are treated fairly and that you also treat others appropriately.

Know Your Rights

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (WWTVPRA) of 2008 protects the legal rights of certain employment or education-based non-immigrants, including J-1 Exchange Visitors, against abuse and discrimination while visiting the United States.

Among other protections, you have the right to:

  • Be treated and paid fairly
  • Not be held in a job against your will
  • Keep your passport and other identification documents in your possession
  • Report abuse without retaliation
  • Request help from unions, immigrant and labor rights groups and other groups
  • Seek justice in U.S. courts

Always contact InterExchange with concerns regarding your safety and well-being.

Be aware of all the laws that protect you.

For your safety, also learn about the signs of human trafficking to ensure you don’t become a victim.

Next: Important Program Information »

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation