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01 . 30 | Insights

What Should I Do If I Am Being Sexually Harassed?

If you have been – or are being sexually harassed, you’ve probably experienced a lot of conflicting emotions. Chances are that you are angry, upset, humiliated, embarrassed, and scared. You may also feel helpless. And while all of these feelings are understandable, it is also important that you don’t give in to your fears – because people who engage in sexual harassment count on victims to remain silent. It is also critical to understand that if you have been sexually harassed – or even if you think you’re being targeted in this way, there are things you can do. Here are some of the key ways you can take matters into your own hands.

If you have been sexually harassed, don’t be afraid to be proactive

First, do not ignore or “play along with” the behavior that is upsetting you. If you are not at immediate risk of physical harm and can do so safely, let the person who is sexually harassing you know that his or her behavior is inappropriate and unwelcome. Use very specific and very simple language. Do so in writing if at all possible, and keep a hard copy of the letter, notice or email for your records. Document your experiences. Keep written accounts of the date, time, and place of each occurrence, along with the perpetrator’s name, title and other pertinent information. Keep detailed notes or oral recordings about your emotions during and after each encounter, including any depression or anxiety you experience. If you have been physically hurt or are having difficulty coping with emotions sparked by the sexual harassment you experienced, it is important to get help from a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about seeking treatment, and remember to keep track of any costs incurred for therapy, prescriptions and so forth. If you are being sexually harassed at work, do not be afraid to report it. If you do not feel comfortable reporting it to your direct supervisor or someone else in management, report it directly to the human resources department. While you can do so in person, it is better to put your concerns in writing so you have proof of the exact date and time that you reported the behavior, and the manner in which you did so. Be persistent. Once you’ve officially voiced your concerns about the sexual harassment you’ve experienced, your employer must take certain actions to address the perpetrator’s behavior. Don’t just assume they’ve done so. Follow up with someone in human resources to ensure that proper actions have been taken in accordance with applicable company policies and employment laws. Be aware of the potential for retaliation. Because it is illegal, identifying punitive or vengeful behavior in the wake of a sexual harassment claim may be difficult.  However, you should document and report any circumstances in which you feel you’ve been singled out unfairly or received any unusually harsh performance reviews.

Seek help from a qualified employment attorney

In addition to filing complaints for sexual harassment under applicable state and federal laws, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit. In California, finding a knowledgeable employment attorney is key to determining if this is an option in your case. He or she can also help ensure that your employer does everything mandated by law to address your sexual harassment claim. Most importantly, finding an advocate means that you will no longer have to face your battle alone, and we are here to help. If you want more assistance, then call us at (213) 293-7881 or email us at assistant@lawpla.com today.

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