Steps to Take if You Have Been a Victim of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Businessman touching the shoulder of his female colleague - workplace sexual harassment concept

No one should be subjected to unwanted advances or be made to feel uncomfortable in their place of employment. If you experienced workplace sexual harassment, it’s important to understand that you are protected by both state and federal law. However, there are a number of things you should do in order to safeguard your legal rights in anticipation of pursuing legal action.

Here are several steps you should take if you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace:

Make it clear that the conduct is unwelcome

Sexual harassment can come in many forms. Regardless of how it occurs, one of the requirements of a workplace sexual harassment claim is that the conduct is unwelcome. You must make this unequivocally clear to the harasser through your words and/or actions. For instance, telling the harasser to stop their behavior or physically distancing yourself from them can help to demonstrate this required element of your claim.

Document everything

Proving workplace sexual harassment can be complex — every case is unique and has a different set of facts. You should be sure to document all occurrences, keep a record of any conversations, and retain all notes, emails, or texts from the harasser. Importantly, the law doesn’t necessarily prohibit isolated incidents unless the conduct is particularly extreme. To assert a viable claim, you must usually show that the conduct took place on multiple occasions and was so severe and pervasive that it created a hostile work environment. Documenting the dates, times, and details of each incident can help to prove your claim.

Report the conduct to your employer

To prevail in a claim for workplace sexual harassment, you must establish that your employer knew or should have known about the conduct and failed to take action to prevent or correct it. While this can be shown in a number of ways, it’s usually best to report the harassment to a supervisor or manager. However, you may be able to demonstrate that your employer had constructive notice of the harassment if the behavior was so obvious that everyone in the workplace knew it was occurring.

Don’t leave your job

If you quit your job too soon, you may have difficulty in pursuing a legal claim for workplace sexual harassment. For instance, your employer might try to argue that you did not provide them with an opportunity to correct the problem. You can only file a lawsuit if your employer failed to take measures to fix the issue or retaliates against you for reporting the harassment. Leaving your job could also make it more challenging to recover your lost wages and unemployment benefits, if applicable.

Keep in mind that retaliation is against the law

Many employees might be hesitant to report sexual harassment for fear of being retaliated against by their employer. However, it’s crucial to be aware that reporting sexual harassment is a legally protected activity. Employers are prohibited from retaliating or taking adverse action against an employee in connection with their complaint. Retaliation can include firing, demoting, harassing, or taking any other adverse actions that effectively punish the employee.

Discuss your options with legal counsel

In the event you have been subjected to workplace sexual harassment, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible to discuss your options. An employment law attorney can evaluate your claim and guide you through the steps necessary to document your case and obtain the monetary compensation you deserve for your economic and non-economic damages. They can also help to safeguard your legal rights and ensure you comply with the applicable statutes of limitation in your case.

Contact a Knowledgeable Ohio Employment Law Attorney

Proving sexual harassment in the workplace can be complicated and it’s essential to have a skillful attorney on your side. Located in Westlake and providing representation to clients throughout Ohio, employment law attorney Chris Lalak is committed to fighting for the rights of employees who have experienced workplace sexual harassment and strives to secure the best possible results in every case. Contact Lalak LLC today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation and learn how we can help.