No one should have to endure sexual harassment in their workplace (or anywhere else). However, this is a prevalent problem that many employees have to combat on a regular basis. Do you know how to protect yourself from the harmful effects of a workplace that mistreats individuals for sex-based reasons? We can teach you the initial steps for handling sexual harassment in the workplace. We can also help protect you. At the Law Office of John Dalton, we have been exceptionally successful in making sure employees receive justice against the employers who mistreat them.
How Does the Law Define Sexual Harassment?
Although it is never easy, properly confronting sexual harassment is less difficult when you know how the law defines it. Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit harassment in the workplace. Under state and federal laws, the general definition is unwelcome, sex-based conduct that creates one of the following circumstances:
- An employee has had to put up with unwanted sexual advances or offensive, sex-based behavior to keep or receive job benefits; or
- An employee has been exposed to offensive, sex-based conduct so pervasive that a reasonable person would define the employee’s workplace as hostile.
Once you know the definition of sexual harassment, it becomes easier to spot, easier to fight, and easier to prove when you take legal action.
Tip One: Make Sure Harassers (and Witnesses) Know that You Want the Harassment to Stop
To have a viable sexual harassment claim, you must prove that the behavior was unwelcome. While easier said than done, the first and simplest step to proving that conduct is unwelcome is to tell the person to stop. It is even more helpful if you can respectfully correct the person in writing and keep a copy of the correspondence. When correcting writing, describe what behavior you found offensive so you have a clear record of the offensive conduct.
If you endure harassment in front of coworkers or witnesses, try your best to signal to the harasser and onlookers that you do not accept this behavior. If it is not possible to address the offensive conduct in a group for fear of escalation or other difficulties, speak to a trusted supervisor about the issue and why you hesitated to speak up. Whatever actions you take to stop the behavior, keep copies of anything you write and take detailed notes about every instance of harassment and your response.
Tip Two: Collect Evidence to Prove Each Instance of Harassment
From the first occurrence, you should start documenting and saving as much information as you can about the offensive conduct. The evidence you gather can be helpful at every stage of trying to resolve the issue. Among important pieces of evidence to start collecting are:
- Detailed notes describing each moment of the offensive behavior,
- Correspondence between you and the perpetrator,
- Copies of employer policies,
- Witness information,
- Correspondence between you and your employer,
- Personnel records (if legally available to you),
- Copies of formal complaints and disciplinary actions, and
- Wage records.
Remain vigilant over the reactions and actions of your employer and perpetrator throughout your attempts at resolution. You should keep collecting evidence until your complaint is resolved.
Tip Three: File a Formal Complaint with Your Employer
After requesting that the offensive behavior stop, read your employer’s procedure for handling sexual harassment in the workplace and follow any available employer procedures for filing a complaint.
Filing an internal grievance against the behavior is often a crucial step in preserving your right to remedies in a complaint. In fact, if you want your employer held accountable for the misconduct of a non-supervisor employee, client, contractor, or customer, you usually have to prove that you took advantage of your employer’s internal grievance procedures to no avail.
If there is no grievance procedure at your work, submit a formal, written complaint to a supervisor or human resources. And if there is no human resources department or supervisor with whom you can speak freely, you have done what you can, and you should talk to an experienced attorney immediately.
Tip Four: Talk to a Lawyer
If you have lost your job or benefits because of sexual harassment, or you have been unable to stop the offensive conduct using your employer’s procedures, it is time to hire an attorney. Your attorney can educate you on your options for seeking legal relief and file complaints and lawsuits on your behalf. These complaints and lawsuits are challenging and can quickly become complex. Your best option for obtaining the justice you deserve is to enlist the help of a skilled attorney.
Tip Five: File a Sexual Harassment Complaint or Lawsuit
You have three options for taking legal action against workplace sexual harassment:
- File a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
- File a discrimination complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD); or
- File a civil lawsuit in federal or state court.
If you file your complaint with the CRD, your complaint is also filed with the EEOC. And you must file a complaint with the EEOC or CRD to receive a Right-to-Sue Notice before you can file a civil lawsuit. You have as few as 180 days to file an EEOC charge, and you have three years to file a CRD complaint.
Victims of harassment who prove their employer engaged in unlawful, discriminatory behavior can win compensation for financial losses and emotional distress. Victims can also win official orders for job reinstatement, promotion, and policy changes at work.
Contact Our Law Office Today
If you are an employee dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, you are under an unfair burden. At the Law Office of John Dalton, we take that burden from you and skillfully fight to recover everything you deserve from your employer. John Dalton has been in practice for over 20 years, and he has won tens of millions on behalf of mistreated employees. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need help. We are available online, or you can call us at 858-720-8422 to schedule a consultation.