Best Way to Prepare for A Sexual Harassment Case in Your Company

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The effects of workplace sexual harassment have a detrimental impact on everyone in a company. Of course, the harassed person feels them the most, but unfortunately, it also filters down to the performance and attendance of other employees.

It takes a brave person to speak out against sexual harassment because there is more to it than the actual act. Usually, sexual harassment creates a hostile environment, and the abuse of power often leads to it. It matters not if the victim is a man or woman; companies need to respond quickly to ensure they protect everyone in the workplace.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment refers to several kinds of unprofessional behaviors. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that sexual harassment constitutes unwelcome sexual advances, appeals for sexual favors, and any spoken or physical conduct of a sexual nature that affect a person’s employment and interferes with their work performance.

Sexual harassment falls under sexual discrimination and can encompass several inappropriate sexual actions. These include inappropriate sexual jokes, sexual abuse, and rape.

Recognizing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The signs of sexual harassment are not always very obvious, meaning that people may not realize they are victims. The most obvious is when someone receives a promise of promotion, a raise, hints of a demotion, or a transfer in exchange for a sexual favor – otherwise known as quid pro quo by those in the legal industry.

Less subtle cases include using inappropriate language or images in communications, making offensive remarks (not always of a sexual nature), and placing inoffensive material on the person’s desk or in their office.

Sometimes the perpetrator is someone from outside the workplace, like a customer, vendor, delivery person, etc. Finally, sexual harassment could affect everyone within a company and not necessarily affect only one person.

How to Prepare a  Sexual Harassment Case

There are several vital steps required when preparing a sexual harassment case.

1.      Reporting

It’s best to report sexual harassment immediately to HR and ensure that your employer gets a written notification – you must also keep a copy. By right, your employer should deal with this through the legal route open to them, but you can also report it to the EEOC within 180 days of the incident if you are privately employed or 45 days for public employees.

2.      Get Legal Advice

The next step is to hire the services of an experienced employment lawyer. Gather a file with all the relevant information and proof. You will want to ask the lawyer questions, so draw up a list of the most important ones. Don’t be shy to ask any questions during the consultation or ask the lawyer to explain something you didn’t understand.

A legal representative knows how to ensure you get fair compensation, which companies often try to limit.

3.      Follow All Workplace Policies

It may feel nerve-racking to start the sexual harassment claim while still working at a place, but it’s most likely to help your case, especially if the harassment is ongoing.

At this stage, it’s best to follow your workplace sexual harassment claim policies and continue to collect all evidence for your lawyers, including emails, text messages, etc. You can even present voice recordings as evidence.

If you are uncertain about how the case will affect your employment, ask about your options.

4.      Things to Avoid

Some things will make your sexual harassment claim easier:

  • Always get a lawyer and listen to their advice
  • Don’t retaliate
  • Don’t blame yourself – it’s not your fault, and you couldn’t do something to prevent it
  • Let your harasser know that you find their behavior offensive
  • You have a right to request that you don’t work in the same space as your harasser

How to Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment

Clarity on what constitutes sexual harassment and how the company deals with it is vital to prevention. Every workplace needs a list of rules and procedures known by all employees. They must also monitor and enforce them, ensuring a prompt investigation after a report and taking extra measures to prevent it from happening again.

Additionally, the easier it is to report this type of harassment, the more difficult it becomes for someone to practice the offensive behavior.

Finally, separating you from the harasser, firing you from your job, or offering you remuneration are all unacceptable. These are known as “adverse employment actions” in law, and you must refuse them.

Quick Tips

Speak up: If you witness sexual harassment, say something. Bystander intervention can be crucial in preventing further harm.

Stay calm: If you are being harassed, try to stay calm. This will help you keep a level head and make clear decisions.

• Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with your company’s policy on sexual harassment and your state’s laws. This will help you know what to do if you experience or witness harassment.

Document everything: Keep a record of all incidents of sexual harassment, including the date, time, and location. This will be helpful if you decide to take legal action.

Get support: Seek out emotional support

Bottom Line

The sooner you decide to report a sexual harassment case, the better you can prepare for it, and the quicker it will end. During this daunting time, your emotional distress and personal details will become common knowledge, especially to your harasser, but you will get the compensation you deserve for your ordeal.

FAQs

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that includes any unwelcome sexual advances or conduct on the job. This can range from offensive remarks to physical assault.

What are some common examples of sexual harassment?

Some common examples of sexual harassment include:

• Unwanted sexual advances

• Lewd comments or jokes

• Displaying sexually explicit materials

• Physical touching or assault

How can I prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?

There are several steps you can take to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, including:

• Clarity on what constitutes sexual harassment and how the company deals with it is vital to prevention. Every workplace needs a list of rules and procedures known by all employees.

• They must also monitor and enforce them, ensuring a prompt investigation after a report and taking extra measures to prevent it from happening again.

• Additionally, the easier it is to report this type of harassment, the more difficult it becomes for someone to practice the offensive behavior.

If I am being harassed, what should I do?

If you are being harassed at work, you should:

• Let your harasser know that you find their behavior offensive

• You have a right to request that you don’t work in the same space as your harasser

• Follow all workplace policies

• Get a lawyer and listen to their advice

• Don’t retaliate

• Don’t blame yourself – it’s not your fault, and you couldn’t do something to prevent it

• Collect all evidence for your lawyers, including emails, text messages, etc. You can even present voice recordings as evidence.

• If you are uncertain about how the case will affect your employment, ask about your options.

You might be able to get a leave of absence or work from home until the case is resolved.

What are some common consequences of sexual harassment?

Some typical consequences of sexual harassment include:

• Emotional distress

• Loss of job or demotion

•Transfer to another location

• Difficulty finding new employment

• Decreased productivity at work

• Depression or anxiety

• Post-traumatic stress disorder

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