What Steps Should I Take If I Am Being Sexually Harassed In The Workplace?
The very first thing to do if you are being sexually harassed is to come forward and tell someone, preferably your HR representative or law enforcement. Your very first step is to document what happened. Something written and permanent is by far the best choice because it helps your credibility down the road. Contemporaneous reporting of events, as they occur, is the most critical aspect of winning a case. If you feel like you’ve been harassed, document it and continue to document any additional instances.
If you can’t document the harassment in some sort of writing, try to do so in a text message or an email. Try to avoid just orally telling someone. When an employee reports a harasser, typically they are embarrassed and they don’t want to go into great detail because it’s painful and humiliating. They may drastically minimize the incident. Later, when the person who was reported to is under oath, they are going to recall that minimized version that they were told.
If you are still employed, be sure to tell someone in management or HR about the harassment. Complain in writing, email, text, or orally. If you don’t, it dramatically jeopardizes the value of your case. If you think what has been done to you is a crime, go to law enforcement. After that, consider waiting before hiring an attorney. Hiring a lawyer right after making a complaint tends to diminish the credibility of the person making the complaint. First, report accurately and truthfully what actually took place. Do not embellish, do not leave things out, and do not try to guess what was in the harasser’s mind.
Once the reports are made, be careful what you say because whatever comes out of the victim’s mouth can, later on, be used as evidence. Be careful who you make friends with. Do not talk to the harasser at all. You’d be surprised at how clever defense lawyers are at making things appear much differently than they really were. Under no circumstances should you go on social media and talk about your experience. Don’t talk about work, don’t disclose your life on social media at all. You never know what people are going to say.
When you do decide to hire an attorney to represent you, make sure you choose wisely. Hire someone who knows what they are doing, who has been to trial, and that you can trust. Once you get an attorney, he or she will walk you through the rest of the steps.