If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, what should you do? How should you report the issue? What are your rights and options?
The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report potential sexual harassment – in theory. In practice, too many employees experience adverse effects after complaining of harassment.
Never risk additional devastating experiences at work because you reported sexual harassment to HR, and they did not respond appropriately. Instead, begin by speaking with an employment lawyer. The right sexual harassment lawyer can review your situation and help determine the best course of action for reporting the harassment and seeking legal relief.
Employers with five or more employees in California should have clear policies regarding sexual harassment. This includes prohibitions on harassing conduct and procedures for employees to report harassment to the company.
For larger employers, the procedures usually involve reporting harassment to your human resources representative. With small businesses, you might not have an HR department, and you may need to report the harassment to your supervisor, the owner of the company, or some other person, if these people are engaging in the harassment.
Your employer’s policy for reporting sexual harassment may be contained in your Employee Handbook, or other internal policies or procedures.
Consult a sexual harassment lawyer
If you were sexually harassed at work, you should consult with a sexual harassment lawyer who can explain your rights and options.
Consulting with a lawyer might seem daunting, but it is a crucial step toward obtaining justice and compensation for the harm you have suffered. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process and provide you with a clear understanding of the law and your rights.
During the initial consultation, the lawyer will listen to your story and ask you questions about the harassment you have experienced. They will assess the strength of your case and provide you with an honest evaluation of your chances of success in pursuing legal action. They will also explain the different types of legal claims you can make.
If you decide to move forward with legal action, your lawyer will guide you through each step of the process, from filing a claim to attending court hearings and negotiating a settlement, or representing you at trial. They will also help you collect evidence and prepare for trial if the case does not settle.
Remember, sexual harassment is strictly against the law and violates your rights. You have the right to work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. A sexual harassment lawyer can help you fight for your rights and obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.
Evaluating whether you experienced sexual harassment at work
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem that takes many forms. Many people are unsure whether their experience qualifies as unlawful sexual harassment.
If you believe you have experienced inappropriate sexual behavior at work, you want a lawyer to evaluate your sexual harassment claim.
Your attorney will consider whether:
- The behavior was unwanted: Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. If the behavior was unwelcome, unwanted, or made you uncomfortable, it may constitute sexual harassment.
- The behavior was severe or pervasive: To be sexual harassment, the behavior must be severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. This means that the behavior must be frequent or severe enough to interfere with your ability to do your job.
If you believe you have experienced sexual harassment, you should contact an employment attorney to learn about your options.
What happens if you report sexual harassment to HR?
Reporting sexual harassment to HR can be a difficult and daunting task, and speaking with an attorney first is advisable. However, some people trust their HR departments enough to report the harassment immediately to an employer representative. What happens, then?
If you have already reported the conduct to your employer, it is never too late to speak with a lawyer as well.
If you complain of sexual harassment, the HR department may:
- Hold an initial meeting: When you report sexual harassment to HR, you will typically need to schedule an initial meeting with an HR representative. During this meeting, you will need to provide details about the harassment you have experienced, including the names of the individuals involved and any relevant dates or incidents.
- Investigate: After you report sexual harassment, the HR department should typically investigate the matter. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents and emails, and gathering other evidence relating to the harassment. The investigation aims to determine whether the harassment occurred and, if so, to take appropriate action to address the situation.
- Follow up: Once the investigation is complete, you might have a follow-up meeting with the HR representative. During this meeting, they can inform you of the findings of the investigation and any action they plan to take in response to the harassment.
- Take disciplinary action: If the investigation finds that harassment occurred, the HR department may take disciplinary action against the perpetrator, including termination. The purpose of disciplinary action is to deter future instances of harassment and protect the employee from further harm.
- Provide ongoing support: Reporting sexual harassment to HR can be a traumatic experience, and you should receive ongoing support during and after the process. HR departments may offer counseling services or refer you to outside resources for support.
Remember that human resources departments do not always handle cases of sexual harassment appropriately. If you feel that your HR department failed to take your report seriously or did not take steps to address the harassment, immediately seek legal advice from an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
If you have not already reported the matter to HR, reach out to an employment attorney first.
Legal relief for employees who experience sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is a serious issue that can leave long-lasting negative effects on employees. It violates your human rights and creates a hostile work environment. You may experience feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. You can obtain justice and regain control over their lives with help from a sexual harassment lawyer.
Legal relief for sexual harassment survivors can come in different forms, depending on the nature and severity of the harassment. One of the most common forms of legal relief is a civil lawsuit. Employees can file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and/or their employer, seeking damages for the harm caused by the harassment. Damages may include compensation for lost income, emotional distress, medical expenses, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.
To succeed in a civil lawsuit, the survivor must prove that they experienced sexual harassment severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. This can present many challenges. An experienced attorney can gather evidence, such as witness testimony, emails, text messages, and other documents, to support their case.
Seeking legal relief for sexual harassment can be a complex and time-consuming process. Employees who report sexual harassment may face unlawful retaliation from their employer or the perpetrator. However, by seeking legal relief, employees can hold their perpetrators accountable for their actions and send a message to others that no one should have to tolerate sexual harassment at work.
While the legal process can be challenging, an experienced employment attorney can help you regain control over your life and obtain the compensation and protection you deserve.
To know that you have someone on your side, consult an employment lawyer in San Diego who handles sexual harassment claims. This is the best way to proceed with your case and protect your rights.