Your employer should provide a safe working environment in which all employees can thrive. Unfortunately, there are times when an employee may suffer unwanted sexual advances, comments, or requests at their place of employment, which interferes with the victim’s ability to perform their assigned duties or feel safe on the job. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of employment discrimination based on sex, which is against the law. Sexual harassment takes many forms, from suggestive emails to threats to job security based on the rejection of unwanted sexual advances. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s essential that you understand your options for pursuing justice. While it’s important to understand what steps to take, it’s equally important to avoid making the following three mistakes when pursuing a sexual harassment claim in Westchester County.
Mistake #1: Not Documenting the Incidents of Sexual Harassment
Without evidence, it’s going to be nearly impossible to build a successful sexual harassment claim. As soon as you experience any incident that makes you feel victimized or uncomfortable, start keeping a written record. This log of events can be useful in determining a pattern of behavior or in uncovering a widespread culture of hostility within your workplace. Even if the incident seems minor, such as a colleague cracking a crude joke during a meeting, or a coworker brushing up against you in the elevator when no one else is around, it’s worth jotting these details down in your written log. Should you move forward with a sexual harassment claim, this log will offer specific and detailed examples of the workplace harassment you suffered.
Mistake #2: Not Speaking Up Against Unwanted Actions
One of the key components of a sexual harassment claim is demonstrating that these incidents of harassment were unwelcome and unwanted. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency in charge of enforcing employment discrimination laws, “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” So, it must be established that these incidents were unwelcome in order for your case to move forward. Although it might be difficult to speak up and inform the harasser that this conduct is unwelcome and needs to stop, doing so will create a record that their actions were inappropriate. If you feel too uncomfortable about speaking to the harasser directly on your own, ask the human resources office for assistance. Without taking steps to clarify that such conduct is unwelcome, you could jeopardize the strength of your case later on.
Mistake #3: Not Consulting an Employment Discrimination Lawyer for Assistance
While you are not obligated to work with an attorney when reporting an incident of sexual harassment, there are several advantages to doing so. Victims of sexual harassment are often overwhelmed and intimidated by what they’ve experienced, and it can be difficult to successfully navigate the complex process of seeking justice. An experienced employment discrimination attorney can assess the specifics of your situation and help you understand the options available to you. More importantly, working with an attorney can make you feel less alone during this challenging time. No matter what, you can trust that someone is there to support you.
If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment or another form of employment discrimination in Westchester County, reach out to the skilled and compassionate legal team at Gash & Associates, P.C. by calling (914) 328-8800 today.