Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be a major problem in the workplace. Men and women alike are suffering as their coworkers, supervisors, and managers consistently subject them to sexual harassment.
Have you been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace? If you are suffering sexual harassment in your workplace, you might have many questions about what you could do. Without a doubt, you might fear that taking action against your employer and filing a report or a lawsuit could result in some sort of retaliation.
“In most cases, employees who are dealing with sexual harassment are afraid to do anything to stand up, speak out, and combat the unfair treatment,” says Daniel Azizi, an employment attorney at California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group. “Too many employees believe that they are helpless against their employers. However, even the largest and most successful employers are subject to employment laws, employment laws that make sexual harassment illegal in the workplace. Undeniably, some employers believe that they are above the law, and they constantly subject their employees to poor treatment. They are not above any law – and our attorneys have consistently helped victimized employees take action against these employers.”
You have been and continue to be sexually harassed in your workplace; what can you do? Can you do anything? Contrary to what you might believe or what you might have been told to believe, you can do something to combat your sexual harassment.
Consider the following recommendations:
- Document every incident. Take note of the time and place the incident occurred. What happened? Were there any witnesses?
- Highlight any verbal inappropriateness in your records. Remember specific words or phrases that were used. Try to record them exactly as they were said.
- Take photos. If the harassment became physical and you were sexually assaulted, take photos of any visible physical injuries.
- Seek medical attention. If the harassment was physical and you were sexually assaulted in any way, seek medical attention and keep all medical records.
- Take notes of your mental and emotional state. Keeping track of how the harassment that you suffered mentally and emotionally affected you could prove to be beneficial after you decide to take action against your employer.
- Keep track of any income or benefits lost. It is possible that the sexual harassment that you are suffering could result in retaliation, such as pay cuts, hour cuts, demotions, etc. This could result in a loss of income and make you ineligible for some benefits. Ensure that you record this information.
- Report every incident with your Human Resources Department. Request a copy of your report each time.
- Speak up. Make it clear that you are uncomfortable with the situation.
- Gather contact information of witnesses. If any co-workers have witnessed your sexual harassment, speak with them and ask them if they would be willing to testify in your favor. It is essential that you have their contact information in case that you are terminated and no longer have access to witness information.
- File a charge against your employer. Depending on specific details of your current situation, you could file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These are the federal and state (California) employment agencies, respectively, that enforce and oversee all employment laws and handle claims. You must file your sexual harassment charge with one of these employment agencies.
- Explore the possibility of filing a lawsuit. Before you can file a lawsuit, you will need to receive the right to sue from the EEOC or DFEH. These agencies will provide you with a right-to-sue letter after they complete the investigation into your claim or upon your request of the right to sue.
- Seek legal assistance. You will need to contact an employment attorney to handle your sexual discrimination case. You might have to speak to many attorneys before you find a firm that you could trust with your claim.
Perhaps the most important thing that victimized employees could do is the following:
Take control of the situation and take action against your employer. No employee deserves to be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace. You must take action against your employer as soon as possible.
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