Follow These Steps to Document Sexual Harassment on the Job
When your supervisor or co-worker is sexually harassing you on the job, you have to protect your legal rights. Documenting the harassment can be crucial to enforcing these rights and collecting the evidence you may need if you later must file a lawsuit. In addition, taking these steps early on will help you build a strong case if your initial actions to stop the harassment aren't successful.
How Should You Document the Incidents of Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment claims are especially challenging to prove because the harassment is often subtle, and your employer may have an alternative explanation to support its denial that any illegal action took place.
Documenting incidents of harassment right away is critical to receiving the compensation you could deserve. Follow these guidelines:
- Keep a record. For any incident of verbal harassment, write down what happened no matter how minor the incident seemed. Do this soon after the harassment occurred when the details are fresh in your mind. Also, keep a record of your response to the offensive actions, such as confronting the witness or filing a complaint with your employer. This is important because lack of notice to an employer can weaken your claim.
- Note basic facts. Write down the date, time, and place of any act of harassment as well as any witnesses to it. If possible, obtain witness statements quickly while they still remember what happened and are willing to help.
- Collect nonverbal evidence. Not all sexual harassment is verbal. If others are harassing you by sending you offensive letters, emails, photos, or notes, save them and detail when you received them. If this material was posted on a wall or bulletin board, take a picture of it if you can't take it down.
- Keep your performance and employment records. Collect any performance evaluations, awards, and other employment records. These can help establish the quality of your work if your employer later claims that your job performance and not sexual harassment was the problem.
- Back up your files and keep records off site. To ensure you don't not lose information that you could need later, make additional copies of all documentation. It's best to keep a copy of it at your home. To keep a record of when a document was created, mail it to yourself and save the envelope or use an alternative means to establish the date.
If you suspect you're the target of sexual harassment, contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney immediately. He can help you take the proper steps to document and try to stop the harassment, file a complaint against your employer, and negotiate your settlement. Call our office to schedule a free consultation with Alan Morton.