Despite the #MeToo movement and public initiatives aimed at stopping sexual harassment, egregious behavior continues to occur in workplaces across America. Sadly, innocent workers are left to pay the price. They can be humiliated and frightened, and their careers can be irreparably damaged when they are retaliated against for reporting harassment. This is unfair and unacceptable, which is why if you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace now may be the time to stand up and have your voice be heard.
We know that can be a scary proposition, but there are concrete steps that you can take to build a compelling legal claim against your harasser and your employer. Here are some of them:
- Take notes: Our memories tend to fade overtime, which can hurt your legal claim. After all, a judge and jury aren’t going to find your claim compelling if you can’t provide details about the harassing behavior or the hostile work environment to which you were subjected. Therefore, consider taking notes of every instance of sexual harassment. When you do so, you should notate the date and time of the occurrence, who was involved, and what, specifically, happened. These notes can prove enormously beneficial in your case.
- Obtain witness accounts: If you’ve been subjected to harassment, then there may be others who witnessed the events. Talk to these individuals to get their accounts. Be sure to take notes of what they say and obtain their contact information so that you can get in touch with them later if you need them to testify on your behalf.
- Speak to co-workers: Even co-workers who didn’t observe your harassment may be able to give you a clearer picture of the pervasiveness of harassment in your workplace. These individuals may be able to give you testimony about other instances of harassment as well as evidence regarding your employer’s reactions to reports of sexual harassment.
- Report harassment: Before you take legal action, you want to make a strong record of the actions that you took to try to get your employer’s assistance in stopping it. This means reporting harassing behavior to your company’s human resources and personnel departments. Try to make your complaints in writing so that you can more easily track them and your employer’s responses. Keep these communications in your records so that you can access them when pursuing your claim.
- Defend your employment record: If you suffered a negative employment action for reporting sexual harassment, such as demotion or termination, then your employer is going to claim that it was justified in taking that action based on your poor work performance. Therefore, you should be prepared to defend yourself in this regard. Track down your performance appraisals and retain any written compliments that you received from your supervisor and your co-workers. Be ready to articulate all of the good work that you did for your employer.
Do you need an advocate on your side?
We know that standing up to harassing behavior can be difficult, especially when you have to do so in the public arena. But we can’t let this type of behavior continue. Not only has it caused harm to your career and your emotional wellbeing, it is likely also affecting others in your workplace. It’s time to bring it to a stop. If you’d like help amplifying your voice so that it can be heard and you can maximize your chances of finding accountability and recovering compensation, then now may be the time to discuss the specifics of your case with a strong legal advocate.