The Right Way to File a Complaint About Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law. If you think a co-worker or supervisor has violated your rights, there's no need to feel ashamed and keep quiet about it. You have the power to change the situation, and there are formal steps you can take to stop the illegal discrimination against you.
Ways to Effectively Complain About Sexual Harassment
It's vital to complain about the sexual harassment to your employer. Doing this may stop the harassment, or could be the necessary steps for building strong evidence supporting your claims if you have to file a lawsuit against your employer.
Follow these tips for making your complaint the right way:
- Talk to the harasser. In some cases, the person may not realize he or she has crossed the line into illegal and offensive sexual harassment. Your first step should be to let him or her know that you find certain behaviors offensive. This conversation may actually resolve the problem. If not, you have put the person on notice that you believe he or she is sexually harassing you.
- Follow your company's procedures. Review any policies or employee handbook guidelines regarding sexual harassment, and state your issue accordingly. This may involve first speaking to a supervisor—or a member of management higher than your supervisor if he or she is your harasser—as preparation for filing a formal complaint, as well as reporting the circumstances to the human resources department.
- Address the issue in writing. Documentation is important in sexual harassment claims. Put your complaint and follow up communications in writing and keep copies for your records. Sadly, some managers deny having a conversation with an employee about sexual harassment complaints.
- Be clear and detailed. Your complaint should be brief but specific as to the actions, statements, and behaviors you believe were harassment. Avoid generic words like “abusive” and “hostile” that do not really say anything. Ask that your complaint be investigated.
- Don't exaggerate. Your credibility is important in a sexual harassment case. Don't reduce your believability by exaggerating what happened or how it affected you.
- Be professional. Feeling sexually harassed is upsetting, but it's important to be polite when making your complaint. It's counterproductive to be rude and uncooperative—this behavior could actually hurt your ability to resolve your claim.
- Contact an attorney. It's always best to contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney before you make your complaint. He can advise you as to whether you have a claim, help you determine the correct procedures to follow, and assist you in drafting a strong complaint.
Do you suspect that you're the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace? Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation with Alan Morton to learn about your legal rights and how to enforce them.