If you’ve been sexually harassed at work, you’re probably experiencing confusion, anger, and fear. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s most recent statistics, over 11,000 individuals file sexual harassment charges each year. Unfortunately, this number means you’re not alone. If you’ve decided to seek help, take the following steps.
Know the Definition of Sexual Harassment
Sometimes, sexual harassment goes unaddressed because the signs of harassment can seem harmless. In fact, sexual harassment goes beyond physical touching to include requests for sexual favors, derogatory comments, and unwanted sexual advances. If someone at work has made inappropriate comments or solicited sexual favors from you, you have the right to seek legal help.
Be Clear with the Perpetrator
When at work, sexual advances or suggestive comments may catch you off guard. Always be clear with the perpetrator about your feelings. Statements like, “This behavior is not appropriate, please stop,” or “I want you to stop making those comments,” inform the other party of their unwanted behavior in a way that cannot be refuted.
Any time you feel you’re being sexually harassed at work, it’s necessary to document each occurrence. Important details of the event include the date and time, perpetrator, and the type of behavior experienced. Also note whether your ability to perform at work was affected by the behavior. Though it may be hard to remember at the time, documenting events will provide legal counsel with the information needed to pursue the case.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
It is generally recommended that you seek qualified legal help immediately if you’re experiencing sexual harassment at work. The longer you wait to get help, the more time your perpetrator has to cause you harm. When seeking legal help, look for lawyers who specialize in workplace sexual harassment cases. If your lawyer is experienced, he or she will be able to guide you throughout the process and take steps to protect your rights. Make sure to ask the following questions:
- Do you specialize in sexual harassment cases?
- How many sexual harassment cases have you won/lost?
- What percentage of sexual harassment cases have gone to trial?
- Are you able to provide references?
- Do you belong to the American Bar Association?
Informing Your Employer
If you’re unsure about obtaining legal counsel and want to work with your employer to resolve the issue, make sure to review the company’s policies and procedures prior to making a report. If this is not an option, consult your company’s human resources department for instructions on how to proceed. Documentation of occurrences is still a necessity, as the burden of proof lies largely on your personal account of past events.
Whether you choose to contact a lawyer or plan to start the complaint process within your organization, it’s essential to get help coping with the variety of emotions you may experience. From fear and anger to confusion and embarrassment, it’s common to feel a range of emotions if you’re being sexually harassed at work. Confiding in a friend, talking to a therapist, or joining a support group may help you remain clear-headed despite these traumatic events.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact Ohio Injury Law today to learn how we can help.