Updated: Aug 29
A Guide To Forwarding Sexual Harassment Claims In California
When you come into your job, you are expected to perform well. However, a hostile work environment doesn't help anyone do their tasks properly. One of the causes of hostile work environments is sexual harassment, and it can, unfortunately, go undetectable when you're not actively looking out for it.
Here's a guide on what you need to do when you suspect harassment at the workplace, what your legal options are, and what you can be compensated with for the difficulties you suffered.
What You Need To Do When You're Getting Sexually Harassed At Work
If you already suspect you're being sexually harassed at work, don't ignore or trivialize it. Chances are, you're already seeing signs of it. So here's what you can do about it:
1. Document And Compile Evidence
Although particular behavior may still violate your company's sexual harassment policy, if it has one, even if it doesn't satisfy the legal definition, two categories of sexual harassment are illegal under federal law.
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when you are offered a job in exchange for fulfilling a sexual request. Hostile workplace harassment occurs when unwanted behavior is severe or pervasive to the point that it disrupts or interferes with your work (such as unwanted touching, suggestive texts or emails, or sharing sexually explicit images or videos).
It is critical to keep track of any harassment you are subjected to, regardless of the nature of the harassment. Make a list of specifics, such as:
The harassment's date, time, and location, as well as what occurred, what was said, and who saw the act.
Keep copies of any pertinent emails, texts, images, or social media posts, or take screenshots of them.
Tell a trusted friend, family member, or coworker what happened, and keep a record of what was said. They can not only offer assistance, but they may also be able to give you confirming statements if necessary.
Keep track of your productivity and job performance, and evaluate your performance report or personnel file if possible. This is so that if your performance is ever questioned, you will have proof.
Store all paperwork outside of your workplace or on your work computer, and make sure it's backed up.
Keep in mind that secretly recording harassment can provide proof, but make sure you verify your state's laws beforehand. For example, in several states, recording a conversation without the consent of both parties is prohibited. The recording is also prohibited by some workplace policies.
2. Go Over The Situation
Ask yourself the following questions while deciding what to do in the face of sexual harassment:
What do you hope to achieve as a result? While some people want their harasser fired, others merely want the harassment to end and move on to another position or group. Knowing what you want to achieve will influence what you do.
What is your company's policy on sexual harassment? Is it common for company leaders to emphasize that sexual harassment is not tolerated? If this is the case, your complaint is likely to be treated seriously. However, work in an environment where terrible behavior is frequent. You may be hesitant to speak up – and with good cause. Not only is sexual harassment more likely to occur in companies with a permissive culture, but those who report sexual harassment in such environments are often less satisfied with the outcome.
What is the policy of your company? Read up on your company's sexual harassment policy as much as you can. Ensure you understand the policy and what employees should do if they encounter or witness harassment and how to report it internally. If you do report, you should strictly adhere to the instructions unless you cannot do so, such as if the harasser is the person to whom you are required to report it.
Do you have an NDA? It's crucial to know whether your job contract includes a nondisclosure or nondisparagement clause, which means you could face legal repercussions if you publicly criticize your employer. These pacts are frequently used to coerce women into silence.
What kind of help do you have? First, do an inventory of your sources of support, given the emotional and financial toll that sexual harassment can have. Are you surrounded by relatives and friends who can help you? Do you have enough money to make ends meet if you have to quit your job? Next, consider the assistance you receive at work. Do you have a positive working connection with someone in a management position? Do you have employees who would support or come forward with you if you told them what happened?
If you're dealing with complicated situations like these listed above, you might want to contact a prescreened Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you sort out your evidence, specify grounds for filing claims, and walk you through the process.
3. Taking Action
Once you've weighed in on your current situation, you should consider what to do about your current predicament. That said, people choose several options:
Continue on your current path. Because of legitimate fears about backlash or reprisal, many women don't feel they can or want to report harassment. But, even if you don't bring it up, keep track of everything, so you have a record of what happened.
Tell the harasser to leave you alone. Do this right now or later in the conversation. Be as explicit as possible about the behavior that makes you uncomfortable. According to research, contacting the harasser directly can sometimes halt the harassment. It's also beneficial from a legal standpoint to be able to say that you told the harasser that you didn't want the activity to continue.
Talk about it. Make contact with individuals who you believe have been harassed or mistreated at work. Encourage one another and explore working together in the future. It's more difficult to reject a harasser's pattern of behavior when multiple others testify to it.
Speak with a California labor lawyer. Even if you don't intend to pursue a lawsuit, speaking with an employment lawyer who specializes in this area can help you better understand your alternatives. Consultations are private, and several organizations provide financial assistance.
4. Filing Sexual Harassment Claims
If you decide to pursue a claim, there are a few factors to consider:
Observe your company's policies. This shows that you took the procedures your bosses thought were necessary to alert them to the harassment. You might also want to consider creating a complete description of your harassment and emailing it to human resources or other supervisors as a date and time record. This ensures that you give all pertinent information and establishes that the harassment was reported to your employer.
Consider approaching a senior executive or human resources (HR). If your company doesn't have a harassment policy in place, or if the person you're expected to report the matter to is the one harassing you, go to another senior leader or HR. If this isn't an option, you can directly submit a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal body that enforces civil rights laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
Filing a complaint with the EEOC. You must first register a charge of discrimination online or in person at an EEOC field office before you may pursue a work discrimination lawsuit against your company. Your employer will be informed after the EEOC receives your charge. The commission will determine the following actions, which may include mediation with your company or an investigation.
That said, you must know your way around the law and the process of filing with the appropriate agencies. If you're confused or stressed over not knowing how the whole thing works, consult with a California Employment Attorney to help you organize your claims process.
What If You Were Punished For Filing Claims With The EEOC?
Employees and workers have a variety of rights under state and federal law. We'll talk about how you have the right to report and sue your employer if they violate your rights in this post. You also have the right to report an infraction and participate in an investigation into the infringements if you notice a coworker's rights being violated.
On the other hand, many employees are fearful of retaliation if they exercise their rights at work. What happens if you're dismissed from your job? What if you're relegated to a cruel or low-paying position? These and other concerns are often based on an employee's reluctance to speak up for what is right.
So, if you're fearful of reporting workplace difficulties or have been discriminated against for doing so, you should speak with an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles, they can help you work through the facts of your case, maintain your composure, and pursue the justice you deserve.
What's A Protected Activity?
Before we can have a meaningful discourse about retaliation, we need to define what we mean by "protected activity" in the workplace.
In general, protected activity refers to legal actions taken by an employee in response to illegal or unethical employment conditions. Furthermore, many state and federal equal opportunity employment laws define unlawful workplace discrimination, harassment, and other acts.
These standards also protect people from sexual harassment and establish core ethical and safety guidelines by government policy.
Employees subjected to discrimination or harassment at work have the right to file and pursue a complaint. A California employment lawyer can help you decide whether to file a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
In either scenario, your employer is prohibited by law from retaliating against you after you file a complaint alleging illegal behavior.
For more information on the matter, contact a California Employment Law Attorneys to help guide you through the specificities of retaliation claims.
What Is The Best Way To Prove Retaliation?
Now that you know the basics of workplace retaliation let's move on to proving that you're getting retaliated against for fighting for your rights against harassment.
In California, you must be able to prove three components to win a retaliation claim:
You took part in a legally protected activity.
As a result of your activities, your employer retaliated against you.
Your employer took retaliatory action in response to the protected activity.
Participating in protected action requires claiming your own or a coworker's rights. This usually means you've complained about illegal discrimination or some other form of criminal activity.
Participating in an investigation into claims made by employees is, however, included. Thus, for example, if a coworker files a lawsuit alleging discrimination or harassment, and you testify against your employer, you are protected from retribution under the law.
Also, even if it is later proved that you were wrong, you cannot be punished or retaliated against if you reported your employer fully thinking that criminal activity was taking place. Suppose you have cause to believe that your employer is breaking worker or workplace protection rules. In that case, you should contact the appropriate agencies and file a report.
What Should I Do If I Was Retaliated Against?
You have a number of legal remedies if you believe your supervisor or employer has retaliated against you for exercising a legally protected right. The following are some examples:
In general, if you have an open lawsuit or government investigation charging that your employer has violated your rights, you can add a retaliation claim to it.
You can ask for a retaliation claim to be added to any existing complaints about your employer discriminating against you, harassing you, or failing to pay you the minimum wage or overtime.
If no litigation or government investigation has already begun, you can file a new, independent retaliation complaint against your employer.
Different remedies may be available to you depending on the facts of your case if your supervisor or employer is found to have retaliated against you in violation of federal or state law.