If someone at your job is sexually harassing you, you may be entitled to recover damages by filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, if you do not properly document the harassment you have faced, succeeding with your claim might be difficult. In many cases, employees fail to properly document and complain about sexual harassment. To help, the sexual harassment lawyers in NJ at Swartz Swidler have detailed how to properly document sexual harassment at your job.
Complain about sexual harassment.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment, you need to complain about it to the human resources department or designated person who handles complaints at your company. In some cases, complaining about sexual harassment will end it, helping to avoid the legal process involved with filing a sexual harassment charge. Additionally, there are legal reasons why you should complain about sexual harassment internally. Companies can defend against sexual harassment charges involving a supervisor by arguing that they would have remedied the situation if a complaint had been filed. If the harasser is your coworker, your company will generally not be liable unless you have complained about the sexual harassment you have experienced and have provided an opportunity for your company to address it.
State what happened with specificity.
When you write your internal complaint, you shouldn’t hold back. Describe exactly what happened with specificity. List the dates, times, and others who witnessed what happened. If your harasser touched your genitals or breasts, don’t be afraid to say it in your complaint.
Make your complaint in writing and not orally.
If you complain about sexual harassment orally, you will not have a record proving that you complained. Your employer will likely claim that you didn’t complain about sexual harassment but instead were angry about your supervisor acting like a jerk. Always write your complaint and keep a copy. Your complaint should include the date you submit it and details of exactly what happened.
Keep copies of your documents.
Preserve all of the evidence of sexual harassment. If your harasser has sent you text messages or emails, print them out and keep them at home in a safe place. Do not keep copies of your evidence in your desk drawer at work or on your work computer. If you are subsequently fired, your evidence may be lost.
Follow your company’s complaint process.
Most companies have written policies about sexual harassment. Review the policy at your job and make sure that you file your complaint with the appropriate person. Follow up to ensure that your complaint is routed to the appropriate management levels and is investigated.
Keep careful and thorough notes.
When you write in your journal to document what is happening at your job, do not leave anything out that might be actionable as sexual harassment. Write specifically when you were sexually harassed on the day that it occurred. Date each entry to keep a written record of the harasser’s conduct.
Don’t make any admissions.
You should never make admissions in your journal. For example, you should not write how you did not realize that you were being sexually harassed until a specific day.
Do not try to justify the actions of your harasser.
While the experience of being sexually harassed might be overwhelming and confusing, you should not write down justifications for your harasser’s conduct. For example, you should avoid writing things like you thought that your supervisor was simply trying to be friendly. Those types of statements will be used against you.
Take care when choosing witnesses.
You should never list someone as a witness to sexual harassment who was not present. You should also avoid writing down people who are unlikely to tell the truth. These types of mistakes can greatly harm your claim. The sexual harassment lawyers in NJ at Swartz Swidler can help you to evaluate potential witnesses.
Be very specific about what you want your employer to do in your complaint.
When you submit a complaint to your employer, it should expressly state what you would like your employer to do to remedy the situation. You should also avoid stating things like you are fine with working with your harasser and that you do not want him or her to be fired. Including these types of statements might enable your employer to argue that you said you were fine with continuing to work with your harasser. Your attorney can review your claim and help you to think through how to talk about the actions you would like to see and to avoid making problematic statements.
Talk to our employment and sexual harassment attorneys.
Trying to handle a sexual harassment complaint on your own can be difficult. The sexual harassment attorneys at Swartz Swidler have represented many people in sexual harassment lawsuits, and we understand how to strengthen your claim. We can help you to understand the proper way to document what is happening to you. If you turn in a well-documented sexual harassment claim, and your employer fails to properly investigate it or do anything to rectify the situation, your next step will be to file a discrimination and sexual harassment charge with the EEOC. Contact us today for help with the process and to learn about the legal options that might be available to you.