How to Report Sexual Harassment

Every year, thousands of employees experience sexual harassment at work. Fears such as retaliation, job termination, physical assaults or simply of not being believed prevent many of these employees from coming forward. It is extremely important to report sexual harassment right away as a victim in California for your safety and that of others. Immediate reporting through the proper outlets could help you protect your personal safety as well as your legal rights.

Go to Human Resources

Sexual harassment can range from sexual assault to repeated offensive jokes in the workplace. It can exist between employees at a company with any position and of any sex. Although many people imagine a male harassing a female, it is an equal opportunity offense. Fortunately, you have options as the victim of any type of workplace sexual harassment in California. Multiple state and federal laws protect you from this crime, as well as from discrimination based on your sex. Protect yourself by reporting sexual harassment immediately.

First, try to confront the person doing the harassing. He or she might not realize the nature of his or her actions and stop after you complain. While it might be difficult to confront your harasser, it is often the most effective way to resolve the issue. Clearly state that you want the harasser to cease the offensive behavior. Document your complaint by writing down when and where you confronted the person. If the harasser ignores you or you do not feel comfortable confronting him or her directly, go to your company’s human resources office.

Go to human resources and file a complaint with the company. Most employers in California have manuals and policies in place to respond to sexual harassment complaints. If you are nervous about coming forward, find out if you can do so anonymously. Continue moving up the chain of command through supervisors if human resources does not help. Document the complaint process along the way and keep a detailed harassment journal for reference later.

Take Your Complaint to a State or Federal Agency

If your company fails to fix the problem internally, take your complaint to the next level. Go to a government agency for a remedy. You must complete this step before you can take a sexual harassment claim to court in California. You may choose between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) when filing your complaint. Either agency will investigate your complaint and may visit your place of work for further inspection.

After the initial intake interview, the agency you chose will schedule a mediation between you and your employer. You may choose to have an Orange County sexual harassment lawyer represent you during mediation if desired. The goal of mediation will be to resolve the issue without needing to proceed to trial. The law in California requires you to file with an agency before taking the harasser to court. Even if you wish to file a lawsuit from the beginning, you have to go through the other steps first.

File a Lawsuit

The final remedy available to you as the victim of sexual harassment at work is a lawsuit against the defendant. Although the EEOC or the DFEH may choose to take legal action on your behalf, this is often not the case. More commonly, the agency will give you a Notice of Right to Sue, giving you leave to file a lawsuit on your own.

Your attorney can help you with the litigation process, from filing the correct paperwork with the courts in your county to demanding fair compensation for your losses. A successful lawsuit could lead to payment for losses such as missed earning opportunities, lost income, attorney’s fees and emotional distress connected to sexual harassment. Contact a lawyer for more information about the reporting process in California.