How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work

Addressing sexual harassment is a vital step toward maintaining a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace. If you’re experiencing such harassment, it’s essential to know how to report it effectively.

Acknowledging the Issue

The first step in dealing with sexual harassment is acknowledging it. Understand what constitutes harassment, and recognize that it’s a serious issue that deserves attention. Remember, you have the right to work in an environment free from unwelcome and offensive conduct.

Documenting Incidents of Harassment

Thorough documentation can play a pivotal role in validating your claims of harassment. Here’s what you need to know

  • Write down each incident as soon as possible. Timely documentation is more likely to be accurate and thorough.
  • Include as many details as possible in your documentation. This might include the words said, physical actions, the presence of explicit materials, or any other behavior contributing to harassment.
  • Note if there is a pattern of behavior or if the incidents are isolated events. A repeated pattern can help establish that the harassment is pervasive.
  • Include names of any witnesses who were present during the incidents.
  • Document how each incident made you feel and how it affected your work performance and well-being.
  • Store your records in a safe place, preferably not at work. This could be at home or in a secure digital location.

Reporting Internally

Reporting harassment to your employer gives them the chance to resolve the issue. Here are some tips on how to go about it.

  • Follow company procedures – Your company’s policy on sexual harassment should detail how to report such incidents. If your employer has an outlined process, follow it.
  • Immediate supervisor or HR – If there are no specific procedures, you can generally report to your immediate supervisor or directly to the Human Resources department.
  • Written report – Consider submitting your report in writing, and keep a copy for your records. This can help protect you if there are disputes about when you reported or what information you provided.
  • Expectations – You should expect your employer to take your complaint seriously, investigate it promptly and thoroughly, and take appropriate action based on the findings.

When to Seek External Help

In some cases, internal reporting might not be enough. Here’s when and how to seek external help.

If your employer doesn’t take your complaint seriously or doesn’t take appropriate action, it might be time to seek external help.

  • If you face negative consequences for reporting the harassment (such as demotion, termination, or further harassment), this is considered retaliation and is illegal. In such cases, external help is vital.
  • If you’re a union member, your union representative can provide assistance and guidance.

The experienced attorneys at Moore Ruddell LLP can help you understand your options, guide you on the next steps, and represent you if you choose to take legal action.

You can also file a complaint with an employment regulatory body, such as the  Civil Rights Department. This department enforces the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which protects employees from sexual harassment and from retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. Understanding your rights can help protect you during the reporting process and beyond.

Self-Care and Support

Taking action against harassment can be stressful. It’s essential to take care of your mental health during this period. Reach out to external support systems such as family, friends, or professional counselors who can provide emotional support and guidance.

Addressing sexual harassment is a key part of fostering a respectful and inclusive workplace. Remember, you’re not alone, and taking action against such behavior is a brave and essential step.

As you navigate the challenges of addressing sexual harassment at work, know that you don’t have to do it alone. At Moore Ruddell LLP, we stand with you, offering guidance and support during these difficult times. If you’re grappling with workplace harassment and need help understanding your rights or navigating the complaint process, contact us for a free consultation.

We’re here to help you ensure that your workplace is safe and respectful, just as it should be. Reach out to us today, and let’s start the conversation about how you can take action against sexual harassment.

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