How to Document Sexual Harassment

Despite strict sexual harassment laws and statistics confirming the prevalence of this crime in workplaces in California, it can still be difficult to win your case and achieve justice as a survivor. It is essential to document sexual harassment. During your case, the defense will try to allege that you did not properly report or record the offense. Take certain steps to document sexual harassment so you can strengthen your case.

File a Complaint Immediately

One of the most common defense tactics in sexual harassment cases is to use the survivor’s hesitancy to come forward against him or her. It is a recognized fact that sexual harassment and abuse survivors need time to fully grasp what happened to them and gain the support they need to report the incident. However, this does not stop defense attorneys from using a delayed complaint – or no complaint at all – against the plaintiff.

Be assertive as the target of sexual harassment at work. Do not wait to say something to your manager and the company’s Human Resources department. File a written complaint against the harasser immediately. Explain in detail what happened, who was involved and who else was in the room when it took place. Keep a copy of your written incident report for your personal records. If your workplace does not have a reporting system, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) instead.

Be Detailed and Specific

Reporting sexual harassment promptly and through the correct channels can create a documented timeline of the event. When describing the incident, be clear and concise in your words. Write down exactly what happened in as much detail as you can remember. It is important to act quickly, while the details are still fresh in your mind. Use no uncertain terms in how you describe the incident. Use the direct legal phrase for the crime committed, such as sexual harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination. Do not try to justify the harasser’s actions or temper your complaint by questioning whether or not it was actually harassment. Be detailed, specific, direct and concise.

Keep a Journal

Your personal journal during this time can be an important piece of evidence during a sexual harassment lawsuit. Think of your journal as evidence the other side could subpoena during your case from the beginning. Do not write down anything you do not wish the defense to know. For example, do not admit that the harassment did not bother you or that it took you weeks to notice it. While it can be important to have a journal as evidence for your sexual harassment case, be careful not to write anything down that could be used against you.

Instead, use your journal to fully document the incident or ongoing sexual harassment you suffer at work. Whenever a new incident arises, write it down in detail in your journal right away. Include the exact time, date and location of the offense. Write down exactly what happened without using euphemisms or omitting main points. If your boss touched your buttocks, for example, put exactly this in your journal. Document how the sexual harassment made you feel or impacted your ability to work. Keep your journal nearby for easy updates, but put it in a safe place.

Work With a Sexual Harassment Attorney

Bring your journal, notes, a copy of your original complaint and any letters from the EEOC to a California sexual harassment lawyer. An attorney can help you use your documentation correctly to bring a harasser to justice. If a lawyer believes you have a case and accepts you as a client, he or she can identify the defendant and file a claim for you. Your lawyer can use your documentation, as well as other available evidence collected, as proof against a perpetrator. Speak to a lawyer even if you forgot to document something. An investigation could uncover proof of sexual harassment for you.