Being the victim of workplace sexual harassment can make you feel helpless – like you have no choice but to lose your livelihood or undergo offensive conduct. However, always keep in mind that the law in California protects employees from sexual harassment in employment, and there are actions you can take to protect yourself and your rights.
The following are some steps you might take if you believe that you are experiencing sexual harrassment. To discuss a specific situation and seek legal support, reach out to a workplace sexual harassment attorney right away.
First, familiarize yourself with your employer’s anti-harassment policies. The state requires employers to inform and train employees on their policies, but many might not, or you might need a refresher. The policy should make it clear what steps you can take to report sexual harassment and how you should expect your employer to respond.
You should not wait to report harassment to your employer through the proper channels. This might be a complaint to HR, to a manager, or even to the owner of the company if it is a small organization. Many people are afraid that they might lose their jobs if they file a complaint, as they think they will be seen as “troublemakers,” but be sure that the law protects you against such retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.
In some situations, the person who should receive the report might be involved in the harassment, which can make you feel too uncomfortable complaining about the conduct. In this situation, you should reach out directly to an attorney who handles sexual harassment matters for advice on what to do next.
The law requires employers to take sufficient action to investigate the sexual harassment complaints and resolve the matter to ensure you are free from further harassment. This might include issuing warnings, taking disciplinary action, or transferring or even terminating the harassing employees.
When an employer does not properly resolve the matter, you can take action to escalate the issue. This can involve filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which can be a complex process. You have a limited amount of time to take this action, so you want to consult with a workplace sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible to begin this process.
In addition to taking the proper action, there are also things to keep in mind that you should not do if you are experiencing sexual harassment. These include:
- Do not get rid of any communications between you and the harasser, including emails, texts, or even notes you took regarding conversations.
- Do not record someone else in a conversation when they don’t know you are recording, as this is against California law.
- Do not post on social media about the harassment or your employer.
- Do not accept excuses or justification for the harassing conduct.
- Do not wait too long to speak with a trusted attorney.