Workplace sexual harassment is an issue that exists in most workers’ periphery; while they’re aware that it’s a problem, most people aren’t equipped to deal with it. Below are several things to know before filing a claim or hiring a lawyer.
Workplace Rules and State Laws May Differ
Statutes and workplace rules may differ significantly in wording and intent. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn’t specifically address workplace harassment, the Supreme Court has ruled that severe, pervasive harassment is a violation of the law. However, employers’ definitions of sexual harassment may be more narrow, and an employee could violate workplace rules without violating state law.
Speak Up or Put it in Writing
If someone feels uncomfortable because of another employee’s actions or words, they should first send a letter or voice their concerns to that person. By getting things in writing, a plaintiff can start a paper trail that documents the harassment. Many of these cases end up with one person’s word against another person’s, and written records can provide valuable proof.
Employers Must Remain Impartial
Company owners and bosses must stay impartial for the company’s, the accused’s, and the accuser’s sake. To resolve complaints, a company’s HR department will question the plaintiff, the defendant, witnesses, and supervisors. An HR representative may look into the plaintiff’s and defendant’s personnel records, email accounts, and other forms of written documentation. Such investigations must be completely unbiased, as they affect both sides’ reputations.
Some Claims Don’t Have the Expected Outcome
Not all claims end as the plaintiff would expect. Many employees are concerned that a complaint will not be addressed, or that they’ll be forced to work in a hostile environment. Some people may prefer to stay in their current position but be paired with a different supervisor or colleague. Depending on the company’s size and the nature of the investigation, such changes may be easy to make.
If a claimant is dissatisfied with the results of an internal investigation, or if the employer does not take the right steps to address the claim, there are other options available. Consult a Sacramento Harassment Attorney to learn more about those options or to file a harassment lawsuit.