Sexual harassment can cause a lot of harm. It can leave you feeling unsafe in the workplace and humiliated in front of your co-workers. It can also lead to adverse employment decisions and even wrongful termination when you try to bring the behavior to a stop.
Although you may be able to find accountability and recover compensation for the damages that have been caused to you, you’re going to have to prove that you followed proper procedures before you’ll be able to succeed on a legal claim. This includes reporting the sexual harassment to your employer or its human resources department.
Why is reporting important?
Reporting sexual harassment is critically important to your case. This is because there’s a Supreme Court case that allows employers to successfully defend themselves by showing that the affected employee failed to take advantage of protocols that are in place to help prevent and stop sexual harassment. If you don’t report the harassing behavior, then, the court may find that you failed to take action to prevent harm. This is known as the Faragher-Ellerth defense.
What reporting procedure is proper?
It depends on the circumstances of your case. However, to ensure that you’re positioning yourself as strongly as possible for a legal claim, you might want to turn to your employer’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Most employers have them, and yours probably specifies who you need to contact if you think that you’ve been harassed. Do your best to follow that policy so that you can deflect this potential defense.
What if there is no reporting process?
Even if your employer doesn’t have a formal reporting process in place, you still need to take reasonable action to try to inform your employer of the issue. As you do so, take note of what you’ve done and any barriers you face in reporting the harassment. After all, if you can show that the anti-harassment policy wasn’t disseminated, your employer failed to track a superior’s harassing behavior, or the employer failed to indicate that you could bypass your supervisor in reporting harassment, then you may be able to overcome this defense.
Building your sexual harassment claim
If you want to maximize your chances of winning your case, then you need to know how to craft your arguments. The best way to do so is to ensure that you have evidence that supports your position. In the case of sexual harassment, this evidence may include your accounts, co-worker testimony, and your employment records. Retain all communications that you have with your employer, too, so that you can demonstrate that they failed to act appropriately in correcting the issue as well as how you were treated when the issue was raised.
Do you need help building your case?
There are a lot of nuances to sexual harassment cases. Most people don’t even realize that the Faragher-Ellerth defense exists, which jeopardizes their claim from the get-go. If you don’t want to get snared by these legalities, then you have to navigate the law with competence and aggressiveness. That’s not easy to do when you’re not an attorney, which is why most people who have been impacted by sexual harassment choose to work closely with an experienced lawyer of their choosing.
Would you feel more comfortable with a legal advocate on your side? If so, then you might want to start researching your legal representation options now. Although that may seem daunting, we think that you’ll feel an enormous burden lifted from your shoulders once you have an attorney on your side to help you fight for a just outcome.