When you go to work each day, you expect to be treated with respect. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In many instances, employees are subjected to sexual harassment. While this type of harassment is thought to happen mostly to women, it also happens to men. Whether a person is heterosexual or homosexual, sexual harassment knows no boundaries in the workplace. According to its legal definition, sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances or other behavior that leads to a work environment that is hostile, intimidating, or offensive. If you are being subjected to sexual harassment, it is important to report it as quickly as possible. However, depending upon who is responsible for the harassment, this process can be difficult. If you need to know more about sexual harassment law and how to report an incident, here are some important tips to keep in mind.
State and Federal Laws
Fortunately for those who are being subjected to sexual harassment, there are a variety of state and federal laws in place that offer different levels of protection against sexual harassment. In virtually all states, fair employment practices laws are in place, with most of these laws being much stricter and specific in scope that federal laws. On the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids harassment from occurring in the workplace or other settings. Thus, if you are being subjected to sexual harassment, always seek the advice of an experienced employment attorney.
Confronting Your Harasser
If you are being sexually harassed, the first step you should take is to confront your harasser about their behavior. While this may be difficult for you, it will be important on many fronts. To begin with, it will let the other person know you will not tolerate being treated in such a manner. However, it will also help you from a legal standpoint. While your first option should be speaking face-to-face with the person, you can also put your concerns in writing and provide the person with a copy of your letter or email. However, be sure you also keep a copy of whatever correspondence you send, and make sure the letter is written in a factual, professional manner. Also, if you are concerned for your safety, never choose to do an in-person confrontation. Instead, rely on written correspondence and plan on reporting the harassment to your superiors.
Notify Your Supervisor
If asking your harasser to stop their behavior fails to get the desired results, your next step should be to notify your immediate supervisor of the alleged harassment. But before doing so, always check your employee handbook to see if your company has a complaint policy for reporting sexual harassment. If it does, follow it exactly. If not, ask your supervisor or human resources personnel how to file a complaint. But no matter the policy or lack thereof, never choose to skip filing a complaint or notifying your supervisor of the harassment. If you do, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court states you may not be allowed to hold your company liable should you decide to file a lawsuit. By not giving your company the chance to rectify the situation, you greatly increase the chances you will lose should your case go to court.
Move Up the Chain of Command
If you feel as if your immediate supervisor or manager has not taken your concerns seriously or simply ignored your requests for help, you should take your concerns to the next person in the chain of command. In most cases, this will be either a higher-level manager, company executive, or business owner. By doing so, you are putting the company on notice that you have made them aware of the alleged sexual harassment and expect them to take action to make it stop. But remember that no matter what actions you take or who you speak to along the way, always document everything that was done and said.
Document Your Sexual Harassment Claims
If your situation progresses to the point where you need the services of a sexual harassment lawyer from West Coast Employment Lawyers, it will be crucial that you be able to provide your sexual harassment attorney with various types of documentation. This will include providing your attorney with as much evidence as possible, such as offensive photos, letters, jokes, or other types of harassment. Along with this, try to have the dates these situations occurred, as well as names of the people involved.
In addition, you should also keep a journal where you detail all forms of harassment you experience at your workplace or other setting. When doing so, try to be as specific as possible, since this information will be important to your sexual harassment lawyer. Include names of people involved, what they did, and where and when incidents took place. Also, if anyone witnessed the harassment, note this as well and provide their names, and also note how the harassment has affected your physical and emotional health.
Finally, make sure you obtain copies of your performance evaluations. This will be important, particularly if you have had positive evaluations prior to making your sexual harassment complaint. In many of these situations, an employer may try to retaliate by demoting, transferring, giving you a poor performance review, or even firing you. If any of these acts happen, they are illegal and can open up even more possibilities for you when filing a lawsuit.
Complaining to a Government Agency
As the final step before you choose to file a lawsuit against your employer, you will need to file a complaint with either your state’s fair employment practices office or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. No matter your situation, you are required to file a complaint through a government agency before you can file a lawsuit. If you fail to do so, your lawsuit will be tossed out of court by a judge, leaving you with little if any legal recourse. Once the complaint is filed, the agency will contact the employer and give them time to respond to the allegations. Along with this, the agency will conduct its own investigation into the matter. Once completed, the agency will either find the sexual harassment did occur, did not occur, or be unable to make a ruling either way. However, no matter the results of the investigation, you will receive a letter from the agency informing you of their decision. Known as the “right to sue letter,” this will now give you the option to contact a sexual harassment attorney from West Coast Employment Lawyers.
Due to the many complexities associated with sexual harassment law, it is never a good idea to deal with these situations alone. If you feel as if you have exhausted all available options regarding your sexual harassment allegations, do not simply give up and let those who are making your life miserable get by with their actions and behavior. Instead, schedule a consultation as soon as possible with a sexual harassment lawyer at West Coast Employment Lawyers. By doing so, you will get an objective assessment of your case and how various aspects of sexual harassment law will apply to your situation.