You should expect that you will need some time to adjust to your new life in the U.S. Your host employer expects you to come to work and to learn and adjust quickly. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, have questions, or just need extra help, please talk to your host employer. It is 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.
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, catcalls, 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
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.
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.
For your safety, know the signs of human trafficking to make sure you don’t become a victim.