Should I Report Sexual Harassment To My Spouse Or Coworkers
We like to make sure you understand the distinction between talking to your spouse or coworker before you retain a lawyer, and after. If you feel you have been sexually harassed, in all circumstances you should follow your employer’s sexual harassment prevention guidelines. If that means reporting to HR or calling a hotline, you should comply with your employer’s rules. If you are afraid, call us first and we can help you get through this important step. What you should not do is keep silent. If you don’t speak out, you cannot get help, and later on, the defense attorney will blame you for not reporting it sooner. We always encourage our clients to speak openly and honestly with their spouses about sexual harassment and what is going on at work. It is far too often, though, that victims of sexual harassment feel ashamed, and try to deal with the situation themselves and never tell their spouse. Eventually, we help all of our clients cope with this and the other issues present in all cases. Many times we have helped strengthen the bond between spouses because a lawsuit is a shared experience of being courageous and overcoming adversity. Likewise, we have found over the years that taking the first step and talking about being sexually harassed is a frightening thought, often paralyzing victims into silence. Sometimes, all it takes to overcome this fear is gently opening up a conversation with a trusted coworker. We have had many cases where the victim of sexual harassment has come forward only after a trusted coworker helped them gain courage and report it.
After you retain a lawyer, and of course, while your case is pending, we ask all of our clients to be very careful what they say to anyone, because of the attorney-client privilege. If our client speaks with someone else, the privilege could be waived and the person ordered by the judge to testify about what we might have said, including strategy, case valuation, tactics, etc. It is critical, therefore, that nothing we may talk about ever gets discussed outside our presence. We ask that our clients respectfully deny speaking about their case to anyone, unless in our presence so as to preserve the attorney-client privilege.
You can talk to your significant other or coworkers about your sexual harassment case, but you need to be aware of what could happen if you do. Anyone you talk to about the case could be subject to testifying under oath, and appearing in court and answering questions about what you told them. For example, if you were to tell your boyfriend anything about your case, for example, about an act of sexual harassment that occurred at work, the defense lawyer would have the right to question the boyfriend about what you said. The defense lawyer could require your boyfriend to testify, and our only recourse would be to try to get a court to stop the questioning, but we would almost certainly lose that argument. If it is a spouse, then, the rule is different because married persons have the spousal privilege and can avoid testifying about anything each other said. During the lawsuit, we always insist that communications to spouses or co-workers be minimized to avoid this dilemma, and instead of you talking to the spouse or coworker about the case, we always prefer if the spouse comes in and talks with us directly, which we are happy to do. As for coworkers, it is always best to not talk about your case, at all, or else you run the risk of having them testify to what you told them, and it may open up the attorney-client privilege.
I Am Afraid Of Private And Personal Information Coming Out About Me During My Sexual Harassment Case; Should I Pursue It Anyway?
Even if you are worried about private personal information about you coming out during a sexual harassment case, you should pursue the case. It is wrong for you to have been sexually harassed, the person who harassed you needs to stop that illegal behavior, and the company needs to correct whatever it is that allowed for the harassment to occur in the first place. Under all circumstances, you should contact a lawyer so that they can help you correct the situation. Keep in mind that the case is not just about you; it’s about everyone else who may be in the same position as you.
Under California law, you have privacy rights to protect private, personal information. As lawyers, we have the ability to prevent certain information from being revealed in a sexual harassment case. For example, if you’ve had something bad happen to you in your childhood, we can always keep this information private and confidential. Other things, like a past bout of depression or anxiety, or marital counseling, which could be embarrassing if revealed, we can object to disclosing that information and we end up keeping it confidential and never disclosed to the other side. Some things like text messages sent between coworkers about the workplace, and even between the harasser and our client, are things that always the subject of extensive battles by the defense to get their hands on that information. While we can object, the law comes down on the side of disclosure. So, if there are any text messages, or emails, or other electronic communications that may be embarrassing, it is always critical to tell us the truth about them at the very beginning. We may not be able to keep them confidential, but if we know about them, we may be able to obtain a protective order and keep the information confidential.
If there is something that would ruin your life if it were to be exposed, then you need to speak to us about it. Many times, the information you are fearful of revealing is actually the critical information we need to win your case. Let us know, and we can help you. For example, we have had cases where our client confessed to having an affair with the harasser, then breaking it off because the stress of the affair got too bad for our clients to handle. In such circumstances, even though our clients were embarrassed about the affairs, and wanted us to never disclose that information, ultimately, we were able to use that information to prove a case for quid pro quo sexual harassment. So, because we have been down this road many, many times, let us know whatever it is, and we can talk about it. Sometimes, ultimately, some information we learn may prove to be so bad that it makes yours a case not worth pursuing. If so, then whatever you have shared with us is still protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege and we are obligated to never disclose it to anyone.