Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination – it is therefore illegal under federal law. Despite this, sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in the American workplace, and has been for many decades. Ever since women began taking up jobs alongside men, they’ve been disproportionately impacted by sexual harassment while merely trying to get through their workdays and build careers of their own.
Sexual harassment is never OK in the workplace, and employees should know how to deal with this situation should they find themselves in one like it. Here are some things you can do if you’re experiencing sexual harassment at work.
If You Feel Safe, Confront the Other Party
You shouldn’t have to, but sometimes making it abundantly clear to the other party that their conduct is unwelcome is enough to make it stop. At the very least, it helps to establish a point at which you consider someone else’s actions to be sexual harassment. Any further trespasses after this point should be kept in your log to help you explain your problem to an employer or your attorney.
You should strive to make your confrontation as clear as possible, such as:
- You are not allowed to touch me. Stop it now and never do it again.
- This isn’t an appropriate conversation for the workplace. It makes me and the other women in the office uncomfortable. Please stop talking about this.
- Stop giving me compliments, they make me feel uncomfortable.
- I will not go on a date with you, stop asking me.
- The way you communicate with me is demeaning and offensive. Please stop.
Document What Happened
Keeping a contemporaneous record of what happened can be the best way to preserve details that can get lost in the future. Whether it’s the first incident or one in a string of several prior incidents, keeping a journal about them that documents the dates, times, who was involved, and what happened in as much detail as possible can make a difference. You can also save assets like emails, screenshots of instant messages, and other virtual materials that can demonstrate that sexual harassment is taking place.
Such a detailed log of evidence can help you report the harassment to your employer, who is legally obligated to act in a manner that stops the harassment. It may also be used as evidence in court should you wish to hold your employer accountable for failing to intervene and stop the sexual harassment from occurring.
Note: Be mindful of laws and company policies concerning the use of recording devices. Violating your company’s policies to gather evidence can place you in a difficult position. California also requires the consent of both parties involved in a recording – that means evidence gathered with a hidden camera or microphone may not be admissible anyway.
Reach out to a Lawyer
If you’re experiencing sexual harassment at work, sometimes it’s best to reach out to an attorney for help in the early stages of resolving this kind of matter. That’s because a lawyer can advise you of the next steps you can or should take to legally protect yourself as best as possible during this time.
Your attorney may advise you to follow your company’s protocol for reporting sexual harassment, even if you think this won’t solve anything. By going through the motions to mediate this problem through your company’s human resources department, you may have a stronger chance of holding them liable for fair and just compensation if they fail to act or if the harassment persists.
If you want to learn more about how a lawyer can protect you when you think you have a valid sexual harassment claim, reach out to Limonjyan Law Group for help. Contact us online or call (213) 377-6707.