When you’re on the receiving end of sexual harassment at work, it can be a very confusing and emotional time. It takes a lot of strength to keep a level head and take the right steps to protect yourself, but it’s ultimately the right thing to do for yourself and for others.
If you’ve reported sexual harassment to your employer and they aren’t taking action, it’s time to seek legal representation. Under most federal and state laws, once you tell your employer about an incidence of sexual harassment, they become liable for any future harassment. An employment discrimination lawyer will be able to help you assess your situation and determine the next steps.
Under federal law, you have 300 days from the alleged act of harassment to initiate litigation. Time is of the essence, so retaining an attorney should be your first step if you’re experiencing sexual harassment at work. You should also consider the following steps if the harassment is ongoing.
Record any incidents of harassment
Any time you experience harassment, make sure to write down a description of the incident. You should include the date and approximate time, the location where the harassment occurred, and the names of anyone who witnessed it. Keep this information on a personal device so it remains private for the time being. Others may eventually read your written account of the harassment if you litigate, though, so keep your information as clear and easy to read as possible.
Inform your attorney of potential retaliation
Retaliation is, unfortunately, a real concern for some employees who report harassment at work. It occurs when an employer or supervisor “takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she is engaged in a protected activity.” In the case of sexual harassment, the protected activity would be reporting inappropriate conduct. If you suspect you are the victim of retaliation, you should consult your attorney to determine how to proceed.
You should also gather your work records right away to avoid retaliation from your employer. This is essential for proving your past work history and performance, so you can dispute any unfounded disciplinary action your employer takes against you.
Take time for self-care
Don’t just take care of the legal aspects of your case – you need to take care of yourself, too. It can be a very trying experience to stand up against sexual harassment. It can also be rewarding when justice is finally served, and your harasser realizes he or she can’t continue to get away with offensive behavior. Whatever your feelings about the situation, make sure to cut yourself some slack and know that it would be a trying time for anyone in your shoes. A mindful approach to your case can make the process easier for you; so can activities such as meditation, exercise, and other stress relievers.
Never sacrifice your own safety
If you’re in the middle of building a sexual harassment case and your employer hasn’t been helpful, you may still be forced to have some contact with your harasser. Never put yourself in an unsafe position for any reason, especially for the sake of your legal case. If the harassment crosses the line into assault or any other behavior that makes you feel unsafe, speak to your sexual harassment lawyer in Minneapolis about the best course of action.