Those who experience sexual harassment in the workplace are not alone. Employees throughout California are experiencing sexual harassment at work, including harassment from their bosses and supervisors. According to a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) study, one out of four women and one out of five men have experienced workplace sexual harassment. If you have recently been subjected to any form of sexual harassment from a boss or supervisor, you may be wondering what to do.
Understand Your Rights
California’s employers have a duty to provide a workplace free of sexual harassment and to respond to sexual harassment incidents with appropriate and immediate corrective actions.
The California Code of Regulations (2 CCR § 11023) requires employers to have a policy regarding sexual harassment and to make employees aware of their policy. In addition, the policy has to detail the process employees should follow to report harassment.
Report the Incident
If the harassment is coming from a boss or supervisor, you can go to their boss or to your human resources department to report what you are experiencing.
When reporting incidents of sexual harassment, be sure to follow the procedures in your employer’s policy as closely as possible. Report the incident in writing. If you report it verbally, follow it up with documentation. Request “delivery” and “read” receipts when sending a complaint by email. Retain a copy of your initial complaint and all other communications about your complaint.
Be as detailed as possible in your complaint, including the names of any witnesses to the incident. If there weren’t witnesses, other forms of corroboration could be beneficial to establish the validity of your claim to those who must investigate it. Even if you talk to someone about the incident after it happened, their testimony can be helpful.
If Reporting the Complaint to Your Employer Doesn’t Stop the Problem
Unfortunately, no matter how much you report workplace sexual harassment or whom you report it to, sometimes your employer won’t take serious action, or you may face retaliation. If this happens, you have other options.
File a Formal Complaint
You can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the EEOC. Suppose an employer is aware of sexual harassment and doesn’t immediately and appropriately take corrective actions. In that case, they become liable to compensate you for damages.
Speak to an Experienced Employment Attorney
Experienced employment attorneys can help you understand how federal and state laws apply to the specific circumstances of your case. They can also help you:
- Understand your options
- File a California sexual harassment complaint
- Evaluate if it makes sense to file a lawsuit
- Understand how different actions might help or hinder your workplace sexual harassment case