Sexual harassment is all too common in work environments. Customers make rude comments. Co-workers get a little too comfortable discussing certain topics. People in positions of power can make inappropriate requests that feel tied to work consequences or opportunities for career advancement.
These situations are all examples of workplace sexual harassment, but the instances that feel the most threatening often involve the harasser taking advantage of their position or influence to pressure their victim into accepting the harassment. This is never more apparent than when a victim of sexual harassment feels unable to report the difficult situation because their direct supervisor is somehow complicit in the wrongdoing.
Obviously, if your boss is the one subjecting you to sexually harassing behavior, you cannot expect that they will treat your complaint with the sincere attention it deserves. You may expect that your claims will be swept under the rug, if they are even discussed at all.
Even if your boss is not the offender, you may still lack confidence that they will handle the situation properly, especially if you know the offender has a strong relationship with your boss. But how else can you report your accusation and be assured that it will reach the right channels to see your concerns addressed?
If your employer has a human resources department, that would be the place to go to register your complaint. Unfortunately, many companies do not have dedicated HR offices with professionals credentialed in the field. Smaller offices may only have general administrative staff handling common HR matters. These people may not have a procedure for dealing with sexual harassment complaints.
No matter what kind of staffing situation is in place and even if the business lacks an official sexual harassment policy, the law still requires that they take action to address any such concerns brought to their attention.
Any company with more than 15 employees is obligated by federal law to investigate claims of workplace sexual harassment and take steps to fix the problem. If the employer fails to do so, they can be forced by the courts to make changes or to pay compensation to cover the damages caused by the company’s inaction.
Therefore, what are you to do to ensure that your claim gets a fair hearing?
Steps to Take to Fight Sexual Harassment at Work
The first step, as uncomfortable as it may be, is to bring the allegations to the attention of a company representative. In cases where there is no HR representative to go to and you cannot complain to your immediate supervisor, you should go to the manager above them, all the way up the chain, if necessary. The point is that you must notify the company and give them an opportunity to address the issue.
Your complaint should be dated and in writing. It should contain as much information as possible about the instances of sexually harassing behavior. Include the dates, locations, and circumstances for each experience, as well as what exactly was said by whom.
You should also keep any evidence to support your claim, such as inappropriate emails or notes taken, when the details are still fresh in your mind. These contemporaneous notes can be recorded with a timestamp by sending yourself or a supportive ally an email or text. You may also enlist the support of a therapist, who can help you deal with the stress of the situation and, in addition, who can corroborate your accounts with testimony on your sessions.
If you decide it is necessary to take legal action, any evidence you can provide will be helpful for the courts.
South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Protect the Rights of Workers
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace and your employer has not made adequate efforts to help you, you may have a case. Reach out to the South Jersey sexual harassment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. Our legal team will work closely with you to explain your rights, legal options, and what steps to take next. No matter the situation, we will strive to achieve justice and the best possible legal outcome on your behalf. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.