Sexual harassment in the workplace comes in many forms, including inappropriate touching, crude jokes and suggestive correspondences. Coworkers and superiors who are guilty of sexual harassment may think nothing of it, especially when the medium of harassment is intangible, such as an inappropriate joke. If telling the perpetrator to stop and reporting the conduct to your supervisor have both proven to be futile, it may be time to consider taking legal action. However, be cautious, as employers prone to sexual harassment may also be the type that would terminate an employee for complaining of sexual harassment. If you make sure to document your sexual harassment properly, then you can walk into the courtroom confidently.
How Can I Document Sexual Harassment?
Even though many instances of sexual harassment lack a tangible form, such as an off-color joke, they can still be used as evidence if properly recorded. Begin to take a diary to work, and write down the time, content and context of any potentially offensive remark said by a coworker or superior. In addition, record the rest of the workplace’s reaction to the remark. Did your peers condone or dismiss this behavior?
Harassment can also take the form of posting inappropriate pictures. In the past, offensive pictures may have been posted on the fridge or a bulletin board in the company break room. Now, employees post offensive pictures using email and intercompany chat rooms. In both scenarios, the posted image is not private property and can be removed, recorded and used as evidence later.
As you collect evidence of sexual harassment, be sure to record your reactions:
- Did a joke make you feel inadequate?
- Did a picture make you feel uncomfortable?
- Did a superior’s body language make you feel objectified?
To strengthen your evidence, record all of the ways in which the harassment has affected your daily life:
- Did you ever feel afraid to go to work?
- Have you grown depressed?
- Do you feel anxious about work-related subjects?
Consider documenting your performance at your job. Try to obtain copies of previous performance reviews and letters from coworkers describing your work ethic. Be sure to request a copy of your personnel file before your superiors get wind of your intent to complain about sexual harassment.
Oftentimes, employees who complain about sexual harassment are transferred, demoted or terminated on arbitrary grounds. By keeping a record of your job performance, you can prove the lack of justification for any change in the terms and conditions of your employment.
How Do I File a Sexual Harassment Claim in California?
Pursing legal action against your employer is a tricky endeavor that should not be attempted alone. Instead, reach out to an experienced sexual harassment lawyer who can navigate the complicated legal proceedings of employment and labor law. The law office of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob in Los Angeles has over 70 years of combined experience representing the victims of workplace sexual harassment. For more information about what resources are available to you, contact our law firm today.