What Steps Should You Take if You’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work?
No worker should ever be sexually harassed while they are working. Sexual harassment robs victims of their dignity and their humanity. Victims suffer psychological and emotional harm in addition to economic harm. Employers have a duty to take proactive steps to ensure their employees are not sexually harassed by management, other employees, outside vendors, clients, customers, or anyone with whom the worker does their job.
At Miracle Law Group, we hold employers accountable when they commit sexual harassment. We file claims when employers fail to establish procedures for – preventing sexual harassment, reporting sexual harassment, taking steps to prevent sexual assaults, and responding promptly to any complaints or acts of sexual harassment. Our lawyers also represent employees when employers retaliate against employees by taking adverse employment actions against an employee who files a legal complaint, files an internal complaint, or helps another employee who was sexually harassed.
We discuss the following issues on our sexual harassment page.
- How Do I Know If I am Being Sexually Harassed?
- How Do I Prove That I Was Sexually Harassed?
- What Are The Different Types Of Sexual Harassment?
- What is NOT Sexual Harassment?
- What Laws Protect Employees Against Sexual Harassment?
- How Much Time Do I Have to File A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?
- Sexual Harassment FAQ
This article discusses what you should do if you are sexually harassed while doing your job.
Speak with an experienced sexual harassment employment lawyer
A seasoned attorney will explain your legal rights including your right to file claims against your employer for the acts of harassment and for any economic, physical, and emotional consequences. Experienced California lawyers will also explain how to proceed practically including the ways that you can strengthen your case if you choose to file a lawsuit.
Tell the Harasser to Stop Harassing You
If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, tell the harasser that their conduct is offensive and not welcome. The harasser should never be able to say – you never complained so I assumed that you were not offended. You might also consider speaking with other employees who might be subject to the same harassment.
Civil, criminal, and administrative cases depend on having as much of a written record as possible. A written record helps to show the seriousness of the offense. Documentation is a method for informing everyone who should be informed (employers, the police, psychologists, judges, and juries) what happened and every way the sexual harassment affected you. Many sexual harassment cases involve your word against the word of the person who committed the harassment. Documentation helps support your set of facts – your understanding of what happened. You should document each occurrence of harassment.
- The documentation should include specific information:
- The date, time, and location of the harassment.
- The identify the person who committed the sexual harassment
- What happened – including what was said, what promises were made, and whether there were any witnesses.
- Whether there was any physical contact
- The tone and substance of the harassment
- The documentation should include any recordable evidence of the harassment such as email messages, text messages, social media posts, website postings, gifts, and any photos such as suggestive or inappropriate photos posted or sent by the harasser.
- Speak with someone you trust about the harassment. Explain what happened. The person you talk to can be a relative, friend, or co-worker. Write down who you spoke to; when, where, and how you spoke to that person; and the substance of the conversation. Speaking with someone helps show that the harassment was serious enough for you to confide in someone you trust. The person you speak with can support your claim if necessary by verifying the conversation.
- Ask to review your performance report. Your employer should have a report on all employees that details how they are doing their job. By requesting to see your personal performance report, you can verify that you were doing your job competently. Sometimes, management may argue that the reason for your discharge or an adverse employment condition (such as a lack of promotion, more stressful work assignments, or being ordered to travel more) is due to your work performance – when it is actually due to retaliation by management for refusing their attempt to sexually harass you. Any changes in your work can then be directly traced to the date you were sexually harassed – confirming that the employer (and management) are mistreating you.
- Store the documentation in a safe place. You should NOT store the documentation at work or any place that the harasser or employer can access. This means you should NOT store files in your work desk or store your notes and records in your workplace computer. Store your information at home and make sure you have backups of your information/documentation.
File a Written Complaint With Human Resources
You should also file a complaint with someone on behalf of the employer who has the authority to review sexual harassment complaints. If your employer does not have a human resources department or the person who was sexually harassing you works is part of the standard policy complaint process – then report the harassment to another senior person within human resources or within the company. Understand that human resources may not fight for you – which is another reason you should speak with an attorney.
By filing the complaint, you place the employer on notice that you are being sexually harassed. A complaint also gives the employer an opportunity to correct the improper behavior.
Keep Performing Your Job
You should not quit your job. You should continue to do your job to the best of your abilities. You don’t want to give the employer a chance to argue any adverse employment conduct is due to your job performance and not the sexual harassment.
Be Sure to Document Any Retaliation
Your employer does not have the right to fire you, discipline you, or alter your job in any negative way because you file a workplace sexual harassment claim. Keep records of any changes in work assignments or your ability to do your job. If your employer does treat you adversely, you have the right to file a retaliation complaint – in addition to a sexual harassment complaint.
Talk to a Los Angeles Sexual Harassment lawyer today.
The attorneys at Miracle Mile Law Group are specially trained in handling sexual harassment lawsuits. If you believe you have been or are currently a victim of sexual harassment, call us at (888) 244-0706 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.