When you are on the job, you expect your boss, coworkers, and customers to treat you as a professional. While this is the case at most companies, others are environments where forms of harassment take place on a daily basis. One of the most prevalent forms of harassment is sexual harassment, which in recent years has become an equal opportunity type of harassment. While sexual harassment mostly deals with women being harassed by men, it can also involve the opposite and have men harassed by females. Along with this, LGBTQ individuals can find themselves the targets of relentless harassment, which can often lead to them quitting their jobs or becoming so distraught they commit suicide. When sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, it must be dealt with and stopped immediately. If you find yourself the victim of sexual harassment, there are many steps you will need to take, one of which is consulting with an employment attorney in Los Angeles to discuss the various options at your disposal.
Is It Really Sexual Harassment?
Before you ever visit a lawyer or have a discussion with a coworker or your boss, it is important to know if you are being sexually harassed as it is legally defined. Since this form of harassment is defined as any unwelcome advances or conduct that results in a workplace that is intimidating, threatening, or offensive, many acts can be defined as sexual harassment. These can include but are not limited to crude and offensive jokes, visible pornography, lewd cartoons or other drawings, unwanted touching, and actual sexual assault. Whatever the case may be, you are protected from these and other acts under Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, and thus have many legal rights that can and should be enforced.
Telling Your Harasser to Quit
If you do not believe you will be putting your personal safety at risk, the first step to take in these situations is to tell your harasser to stop whatever they are doing to you immediately. In many cases this will be sufficient, since some people will not realize the impact of their actions. However, if you use this approach, do not simply tell the person to stop with a conversation. Along with this, also put your demands in writing and give them a copy, as well as keeping a copy for yourself. In doing so, you will have proof you have asked the person to cease and desist, which will be important should the situation escalate later on.
Speaking to Your Supervisor
Along with speaking to your harasser, also schedule a time to speak to your immediate supervisor about what is happening to you. Not only will this make your boss aware of the other person’s actions, but it will also force the company into investigating the matter and filing an incident report. If for any reason your immediate supervisor is the one harassing you, always feel free to go up the chain of command to their boss with your concerns. When having this conversation, it is often a good idea to mention you have spoken with attorneys from West Coast Employment Lawyers, since this will let your boss know you are serious about this matter and expect a quick resolution to the matter.
Contacting Human Resources
Along with speaking to company management, also make sure you make your concerns known to your company’s Human Resources director. Just as it is with management, the HR director will be required by federal law to investigate the matter and file a report. Along with this, the HR director will also be required to explain the various options you have in this matter, since they are responsible for overseeing company policies regarding any form of harassment.
Before you ever have a meeting with your boss or Human Resources director, always make sure you have gathered together as much evidence as possible showing how you are being harassed. For example,if there are emails, drawings, or pornography being sent your way, always have these with you to prove your case. In addition, if anyone else witnessed the harassment take place, try to get witness statements from them to take with you as well. If they do not want to give you a statement, make sure you write down their names so that management and HR can speak to them at some point. Once you have this evidence, it is important to not only let company management and Human Resources examine it, but also take it with you when you meet with your employment attorney in Los Angeles. By being able to examine this evidence, your attorney will have a much better idea as to how to proceed with your case.
File a Complaint with the EEOC
If your efforts to resolve the matter internally have failed, your next step will be to file a formal complaint with the United Stated Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. By doing so, you are putting your employer on notice that one way or another, this problem will be solved. Once you contact the EEOC and discuss your situation with an agency representative, the agency will make its recommendations as to how you can proceed. Should the EEOC for any reason believe you have not been sexually harassed, you still have the right to file a complaint with the agency. By doing so, you will initiate a federal investigation into the matter, which will definitely get your employer’s attention.
Use Good Judgment Along the Way
While your employer is being investigated for sexual harassment, always use good judgment until the situation is resolved. For example, if you are on social media, do not post angry comments about your boss or others involved in the alleged harassment. If you do, these comments will almost surely make their way back to your company and be used against you in retaliatory acts. Also, gain access to your employment file and gather copies of recent performance reviews, since it is possible your employer may try to argue you are simply a disgruntled employee with a poor track record at the company.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your EEOC complaint is finished and you still need to resolve the situation, you can choose to file a lawsuit against your employer and those involved in the harassment. In these situations, it is important to remember that even if the EEOC investigation fails to conclude sexual harassment occurred, you still have the legal right to file a lawsuit. Since federal agencies such as the EEOC are often overwhelmed and understaffed, they may not have put in a sufficient amount of time to investigate your claims. However, by working with experienced and knowledgeable attorneys from West Coast Employment Lawyers, you will have legal experts on your side who are determined to protect your civil rights each step of the way.
Since sexual harassment can be very intimidating, many victims choose to be silent and do nothing. Rather than take this approach, choose instead to hold your employer accountable for its actions. To do so, schedule a consultation with an employment attorney in Los Angeles from West Coast Employment Lawyers to discuss your case in greater detail.
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