If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, the actions that you take in the aftermath could make the difference in getting justice and receiving compensation. Although it seems unfair to put the onus on you when you have been the victim of someone else’s wrongful behavior, you must also act to put yourself in the strongest legal position. Here are some of the things that you should do if you believe that you have been sexually harassed.
Review Your Employer’s Policy
Under California law, each employer is required to have a policy regarding sexual harassment. They must make this policy known to employees. The policy must outline how employees can report sexual harassment. Make sure to familiarize yourself with this policy first so you know your rights in the workplace and how you can address the situation.
Your employer may deny that you have been subjected to a pattern of harassment. They will likely deny that the incidents even happened in the first place, as you have related them. Therefore, it is important that you have evidence that can be used to back up your claim.
Not only should you document any intemperate and illegal remarks, but you should also note the following:
- Quid pro quo, where you are offered something to submit to the harasser or threatened with something if you do not
- Any different treatment that you have received that could be considered a hostile work environment
Documentation is one thing that can make a difference when there are two sides to every story. If you do not have texts, emails, pictures, or recordings, you can still take contemporaneous notes of what is happening. Try to keep a journal of what is happening, along with some sort of timestamp that shows that the journal is being written at the time. Keep all the evidence in a safe place and make copies of everything.
There are rarely witnesses to sexual harassment. It is the documentation that can help prove your claims.
Pay Attention to Context
You may not be the only person who is being subjected to illegal conduct. There could be a pattern of sexual harassment in the workplace. What happens to others may be helpful to prove your own claims. If you notice that others are dealing with the same type of conduct or treatment, you should document it. A hostile work environment may not just affect you. If the employer has a pervasive pattern of this type of conduct, it may help you prove your case and obtain punitive damages.
Report the Conduct
We understand that it is difficult to report the conduct that you are experiencing. You may feel powerless and degraded, and you are afraid to say something. Even though retaliation is illegal, you are likely worried about that prospect.
However, reporting the conduct is a must for several reasons. First, there is a chance that reporting it can bring an end to the harassment. Your employer may not know what is happening, and they certainly want to limit their own legal liability. Their own attorneys and personnel may investigate your claims and take action.
Second, if you want to file a lawsuit, you must first report the harassment to your employer. If you do not show that you have brought the conduct to your employer’s attention, you will not be able to receive compensation in a lawsuit.
You should have some evidence that you reported the harassment. If you make a verbal report, your employer may deny that you had the conversation. Therefore, you should make the initial report in writing. Your best hope is that the employer takes action to make the harassment stop, although they do not need to tell you what they did in response to your report.
Contact an Attorney
It is understandable that you are struggling with knowing what to do when you are being harassed. The harassment is traumatic enough without having to deal with human resources and legal requirements. You likely do not know how to act effectively to address the situation, especially when under emotional stress.
You should contact an experienced employment attorney for advice on dealing with the situation. The attorney can advise you on how to respond and deal with the matter at work. They can also tell you what to be on the lookout for and how to document your claim. Not only do you have to worry about continued harassment, but you also need to fear retaliation (even though it is grounds for a lawsuit).
You do not need to go through this unpleasant experience on your own. An attorney can give you advice on how to handle the harassment and help you pursue justice from your employer.
File a Claim for Compensation
In California, you have two options for getting justice for sexual harassment. The first is to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is a federal agency that is tasked with investigating claims of harassment and discrimination. The EEOC may decide to file a lawsuit on your behalf against the employer. They may tell you to go ahead and file your own lawsuit. Either way, you must go through the EEOC first. You cannot directly sue your employer before you have filed a complaint to the EEOC.
You may also file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. As a victimized employee, you can also obtain relief under state laws that forbid sexual harassment in the workplace. Your attorney would advise you on the best path forward.
Hire aLos Angeles Employment Law Attorney
The Arshakyan Law Firm helps you stand up for your own rights when your employer has broken the law. Federal and state laws are what empower you to take action when your employer may have made you feel powerless. Call us today at (888) 851-5005 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. You owe us nothing unless you win, so there is no risk to you.