California has laws that protect employees from being sexually harassed in the workplace. Employees are protected from unwanted sexual advances, a hostile work environment, and from their employers using sexual favors as a condition of the benefit of employment. If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to take action immediately. What follows are the steps a California employee should take if he or she is subjected to sexual harassment at work.
6 Steps to Take When You Are Sexually Harassed at Work
1) Start by telling your harasser to stop.
Begin by telling the person who is harassing you that his or her actions are making you uncomfortable and that you would like for the harassment to stop. It might be scary, but it is important that you take this first step and stand up for yourself. If confrontation is simply out of the question, then you should move on to the next step.
2) Review your workplace policy on sexual harassment.
Your employer should have provided you with a sexual harassment policy in your employee handbook, which should detail the appropriate protocol for handling sexual harassment complaints. If your employer has a sexual harassment reporting protocol, you should follow it.
3) Put the complaint into writing.
Write down your sexual harassment complaint. Do not skimp on details and make sure that you include dates, times, a listing of who was involved and who was a potential witness, a description of the offending conduct or behavior, and who you sought out to report the incident. Maintain a copy for yourself and provide a copy to whomever your employee handbook designates as the appropriate person for handling sexual harassment claims. If your employee handbook does not designate a specific individual to handle such complaints, then you should report the harassment to your supervisor and/or a human resources employee.
4) Maintain a sexual harassment journal.
Make a written record of the incident, but also record every step that you take to report the sexual harassment to your employer. Keep track of when the incident occurred, when you reviewed your company's sexual harassment policy, when you met with the appropriate person for filing your complaint, and what your employer did in response. Your journal will also allow you to record any subsequent incidents of sexual harassment that you may have been victim to. Multiple recorded instances of sexual harassment, especially after the initial sexual harassment was reported to your employer, create strong grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit.
5) Monitor the situation.
Your employer is required to follow up your complaint with an investigation. Your co-workers, the potential witnesses you identified in your complaint, and your harasser will all likely be asked questions about the incident. You want to monitor when your employer launches an investigation because it is important that your employer take your complaint seriously and that it is handled in a timely manner.
6) Talk to a sexual harassment lawyer.
If your employer is dragging its feet on investigating the sexual harassment, or your harasser has begun retaliating against you for reporting the harassment while your employer does nothing to help you, then contact a California employment lawyer who handles workplace sexual harassment cases. When your employer is uncooperative, you should take action to protect yourself. You need to understand what your legal options are and how you can proceed.
Do You Need a Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer?
Your employer is prohibited under both state and federal law from retaliating against you for reporting workplace sexual harassment. A California employer cannot fire you, demote you, withhold pay or advancement opportunities, or give you a bad review in retaliation for raising the issue of sexual harassment. If your employer has engaged in any of the above, you need to consult with a California employment lawyer about your situation. Contact the California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation today.