When a coworker or someone else in your workplace is making unwanted sexual advances, it can quickly create tension between you and others, and it can lead to a hostile work environment. This is a problem that many people face at work, however, and there are steps you can take to try to stop the problem as soon as possible. If it does not stop, you should contact a California workplace sexual harassment lawyer right away.
Some people might believe they are just “joking around,” or that persistence will pay off, and you will finally succumb to ongoing sexual advances. If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, you should clearly tell the perpetrator that their advances are unwanted and how uncomfortable you are feeling.
First – again if you feel safe – you might try to have a private conversation to avoid further embarrassment or tension. If the private conversation doesn’t work, repeat the conversation in front of witnesses. If you feel unsafe having a private conversation, state your feelings in front of witnesses from the start.
If the harasser continues with the advances or similar conduct following your conversation, you should escalate the matter by reporting what is happening to your human resources department. Your HR representative should know what to do to address the problem under California law.
You might also report the issue to a supervisor or company owner with authority to take action to resolve the problem. You are protected by law from retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, and if your supervisor does take adverse action against you, keep detailed notes of every conversation and how they reacted.
When you report sexual harassment and a hostile work environment to your employer, they have the duty to take sufficient action to stop the harassment. If your employer fails to protect you from further sexual advances, you can escalate the matter even further – to the state or even federal level. This is the time when you should speak with a workplace sexual harassment attorney.
An attorney can review your situation and advise you whether it is best to file a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If your employer retaliated against you in any way for reporting the issue or filing a complaint, you can also file a complaint for unlawful workplace retaliation.
Sexual harassment cases can be complicated, and employers will routinely try to deny what happened – especially if they failed to stop previously reported sexual harassment. You can expect the company to try to avoid liability, so you need an advocate who can help you stand up for your rights at work.
Contact a workplace sexual harassment attorney for a free case evaluation right away. You do not have to continue working and dealing with unwanted sexual advances, as you have important protections under the law.