Six years after the #MeToo movement went viral and as recently seen in media headlines, sexual harassment continues to be a prevalent problem throughout workplaces across America.
Sexual harassment should not be tolerated in society and especially not in the workplace. Employers have a legal obligation to investigate and address any sexual harassment complaints. It’s crucial to understand your rights and take appropriate action when you find yourself facing such behavior.
In this blog post, we will provide you with five steps you can take to fight against sexual harassment in the workplace.
1. Report Sexual Harassment to Human Resources or A Supervisor
If you experience sexual harassment at work, it’s important to tell your employer’s human resources department or your supervisor as soon as possible. It’s a best practice to put your complaint in writing. Your employer is legally obligated to take your report seriously and investigate the incident. They must also take action to protect you from further sexual harassment.
That said, not all employers faithfully conduct these investigations or take meaningful action to protect their employees. In this case, reporting the sexual harassment may ultimately serve to assist you with your sexual harassment claim, demonstrating that you took action to make your employer aware of the behavior, but your employer failed to take corrective and preventive actions.
Your employer also cannot retaliate against you or terminate you for making a sexual harassment complaint. If you work in California and have experienced sexual harassment or retaliation for making a sexual harassment complaint, contact Benton Employment Law today to discuss the details of your case.
2. Document Incidents of Sexual Harassment
Employees should document incidents of sexual harassment whenever possible, which could include taking notes directly after the incident or keeping any related messages or emails. It’s recommended to be detailed to provide a clear picture of what happened.
Additionally, employees should keep track of the date and time of each incident and list any witnesses who may have seen or heard something that could be considered inappropriate behavior.
Lastly, employees should make sure to save any physical documentation, such as copies of complaints, emails, or messages, in a secure location for future reference.
3. File a Police Report
While sexual harassment in the workplace is often a civil matter, certain behaviors may also constitute criminal behavior. This includes but is not limited to rape or touching another person’s intimate part against their will for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. If this occurs, consider filing a police report to document the incident; if the police believe a crime may have occurred, they may arrest the abuser and press criminal charges.
Even if this outcome doesn’t occur, having a police report of the incident means having another contemporaneous document detailing the incident.
4. Meet with a Therapist
Experiencing sexual harassment at work can be traumatizing for many individuals. You should strongly consider seeing a therapist to help you work through the many challenging thoughts and emotions you may have during this time. With professional assistance, you can gain the perspective and coping tools you need to move forward.
5. Seek Legal Assistance
Around the same time that you’re reporting sexual harassment to your employer, you should consult with an employment lawyer. This is especially relevant when you’ve experienced similar incidents in the past, and nothing seems to get better. Benton Employment Law is here to help.
An experienced attorney can provide you with the legal advice and services you need to resolve your situation, whether that involves legal action or not. That said, you may be owed damages if your employer was negligent in properly mitigating the circumstances that caused you to experience sexual harassment at work. An attorney can help you file a lawsuit to seek compensation for these damages.
Remember, you are not alone, and Benton Employment Law is here to provide guidance and support. By familiarizing yourself with your rights and taking proactive steps, you can protect yourself and contribute to a safer work environment.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
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