Steps to Take After Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment is a common occurrence in workplaces across the country, even in California, and even in the modern era. Victims of harassment may not know where to turn when they experience such conduct. Read on for a discussion of the major steps to take after you’ve experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace. Call a dedicated Riverside workplace harassment lawyer with additional questions or for help responding to harassment in your workplace.
Tell the Harasser to Stop
It’s possible that the person committing sexual harassment does not realize that their conduct is offensive or harassing. Depending upon the nature of the conduct and your workplace circumstances, they may believe they are making innocent jokes or simply pursuing a romantic engagement. If you are comfortable doing so, try telling the harasser that their actions make you uncomfortable and/or ask them to stop the behavior.
In many cases, such as if the harasser is a supervisor, employees do not feel comfortable speaking out. If you do not feel comfortable or safe speaking to the person directly, or if asking them to stop does not resolve the issue, move on to the next steps.
Report the Conduct to a Supervisor or Human Resources
It’s generally a good idea to exhaust internal reporting avenues before resorting to external options. If your company has a system in place for reporting sexual harassment, such as filing an anonymous complaint or speaking to a particular representative, go through those channels. Check your employee handbook for the proper procedure. If there is no set policy, report the conduct either to your direct supervisor, human resources, or your supervisor’s supervisor.
Your employer should conduct an investigation into your allegations and take appropriate action to rectify the situation. Keep copies of any reports you make and any communications with your employer about the issue; take notes on any call or in-person conversations. Moreover, take notes on each and every incident of harassment, to help you fill out your report and support any further legal action down the line. You may need those copies and notes later on if the company disputes your account.
Reporting the conduct to your employer first is helpful for several reasons. First, you might resolve the issue quickly without the need for further action; the harasser may be punished, transferred, or fired, resolving the issue to your satisfaction. Second, it will give you a stronger legal claim down the line. If you report the conduct to your employer and they fail to act appropriately, they cannot argue that they were unaware of the harassment or that they did everything they could. You strengthen your claims and your potential recovery.
Go to the EEOC or DFEH
If your employer does not take appropriate steps to respond to the harassment, then you need to seek external help. You can file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These agencies are tasked with investigating and responding to complaints regarding workplace misconduct.
The EEOC or DFEH will investigate your allegations and determine whether to take action themselves or grant you the right to sue. Once they issue a “right to sue” notice, you can pursue your claims in court.
Talk to a Workplace Harassment Attorney
Once you have taken the matter outside of the workplace, it’s time to consult an attorney. An employment law attorney can help you fill out your complaint with DFEH and follow up on any enforcement actions. Once DFEH or the EEOC issues you a right to sue, your workplace harassment lawyer can help you pursue all of your legal options.
File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Once you have exhausted your internal and administrative remedies, you can pursue action in court. You and your attorney will work to gather evidence and file a lawsuit against your employer for committing harassment or permitting a hostile work environment perpetuating sexual harassment committed against you. You may be entitled to significant damages and other remedies. Talk to your California harassment lawyer to find out what damages you may be able to collect and how to build the strongest case.
Call a Zealous Employment Law Attorney for Help With a California Sexual Harassment Claim
For help protecting yourself and recovering compensation after experiencing sexual harassment in Southern California, call Ochoa & Calderón to discuss your case with a skilled and effective California employment law attorney. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.