From inappropriate jokes to unwanted advances, sexual harassment continues to pervade in the workplace. Both men and women are subject to the negative physical and psychological effects of sexual harassment, making it essential to be pointed out whenever it happens as the problem is still widespread despite efforts in preventing it.
Every employee must know how to report sexual harassment at work. It is crucial to identify what it is, take the necessary steps to fight it, and understand the processes of filing a claim.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
There are different types of sexual harassment. Below are a few examples of how it can take form in the workplace:
- Standing in your way and physically preventing you from moving
- Brushing up against parts of or your whole body
- Following you around or giving you excessive and unwanted attention
- Mocking your gender identity or sexual orientation
- Sharing stories about sexual experiences or lewd jokes
- Sending sexually implicit or explicit emails and letters without your consent
- Sharing sexually suggestive images in the workplace
- Asking you on a date repeatedly despite your refusal
- Asking for sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities
- Making sexually offensive gestures and inappropriate physical contact
How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work
Confront the Harasser
The first thing you can do is to confront your harasser and tell him or her to stop. While this may seem difficult, it is often the most effective way of handling these kinds of situations. Crass jokes and inappropriate comments can easily be put to an end when you place your foot down this way.
It’s essential to state that you’re not comfortable with such behavior since it legitimizes the harassment action that took place and is one of the first steps to do when you choose to file a formal action against the other party. Writing a letter directed to the person is an alternative to those who may feel uncomfortable confronting their harasser face to face. You can also address this letter to your supervisor if you fear for your safety.
Write Down What Happened
Documenting the events is the most crucial step when reporting sexual harassment at work. Records are necessary as they are pieces of evidence once an investigation from your company or a government agency takes place. Gather as much evidence as possible about the incident to strengthen your claim.
Collect and produce copies of inappropriate photos, cards, letters, and the like that you have received from your harasser. Take note of the date that they were posted or received if you can’t readily acquire them.
Keeping a journal is also advisable when keeping track of when and where the incidents happened and taking note of all those who are involved. Don’t leave out any detail about what happened, including how the behavior affected you, your well-being, and overall performance at work. Keep your journal with you at all times and away from your office.
Lastly, secure copies of your performance records and personnel documents before complaining about your co-worker. All of these can help you in case your employer retaliates against you as they function as evidence of your good performance before your complaints and expose any false claims about your output work being poor.
Notify Human Resources or Your Supervisor About the Incident
Escalate the complaint to your supervisor or human resources department after confronting the harasser and writing down the events of the incident. Go over your employee handbook and review the policies. If there is any policy about sexual harassment or complaints, follow it. If your company handbook doesn’t have policies dealing with sexual harassment, approach your supervisor or someone from the HR instead.
The U.S. Supreme Court dictates that every employee must use their employer’s procedure for complaints. Anyone who fails to do this would not be allowed to hold their employer or company liable in a lawsuit.
California Sexual Harassment: Statute of Limitations
Know that sexual harassment claims have a statute of limitations or a window of opportunity when you need to file your claim after the incident happened before forfeiting it along with necessary compensations. How much time you have to file a claim depends on which state you are in.
For the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the time limit is 180 days from the date of the incident. In California, you have up to a whole year from the event you were harassed to file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Understand that not meeting the deadline shall bar your claim and deny you of acquiring any form of compensation nor bring legal action to the harassment you’ve experienced. File your sexual harassment claim on time by finding a legal professional to help you to ensure you get the justice you deserve.
Seek Experienced Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Los Angeles
Filing a claim can be difficult because of the potential challenges you may face. The other party may deny your allegations and fight back with an attorney while the employers in question may have the resources to negotiate your claim and lower the compensation that you will receive.
Hire a seasoned sexual harassment lawyers to have someone who understands the processes, the statute of limitations of your claim, and the experience to combat the injustice that you’ve experienced.