If you’ve taken the significant step of scheduling a consultation with a sexual harassment attorney, it’s essential to be well-prepared for your appointment. Understanding the nature of sexual harassment and what to expect during the consultation is crucial. At Swartz Swidler, our New Jersey sexual harassment attorneys are here to help you navigate this process, ensuring you are equipped with the knowledge needed to pursue your case effectively. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you get ready for your consultation.
Unpacking Sexual Harassment
Before delving into the preparation steps, it’s vital to grasp what constitutes sexual harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment involves unwelcome conduct directed at a person based on their sex. This conduct encompasses physical or verbal acts of a sexual nature, unwelcome advances, and requests for sexual favors. However, it’s important to recognize that sexual harassment can manifest in less overt forms, demanding a discerning eye to identify.
Types of Sexual Harassment
Legally, sexual harassment falls into two primary categories: hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment.
⦁ Hostile Work Environment Harassment: This type of harassment involves a sustained pattern of conduct over time, creating an environment that a reasonable person would perceive as hostile. It can also result from a single, severe incident, such as sexual assault.
⦁ Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person in a position of authority requests sexual favors in exchange for work-related benefits or the avoidance of adverse employment consequences. Whether the victim agrees to these demands is immaterial; what matters is the misuse of power to compel sexual favors.
It’s important to note that sexual harassment can affect individuals of any gender identity and can occur between individuals of the same gender if the harassment is based on the victim’s sex. Perpetrators of sexual harassment can include supervisors, co-workers, clients, customers, independent contractors, and vendors.
Preparing For Your Consultation: A Step-by-Step Approach
Now that you know more about sexual harassment, let’s discuss what you will need to do to prepare for your consultation with a sexual harassment attorney in New Jersey:
1. Document Gathering
In the legal realm, evidence is the bedrock upon which cases are constructed and justice is pursued. To prepare comprehensively for your consultation with a sexual harassment attorney, the process of document gathering takes center stage. Assembling a comprehensive array of relevant documents and evidence is not merely a preliminary step; it’s a strategic move that can significantly fortify your position. Here are some of the key documents to gather and bring with you:
⦁ Personnel records and performance evaluations
⦁ Internal complaint documentation
⦁ An incident journal (a chronological record of events that details the times, locations, and individuals involved in the harassment)
⦁ Communication, including emails and text messages
⦁ Video and photographic evidence
⦁ Written witness testimonials
By methodically gathering these documents and evidence, you empower your attorney to construct a compelling case on your behalf. These materials serve as tangible proof of the harassment you’ve endured. During your consultation, your attorney will review these items with a discerning eye, identifying key patterns, discrepancies, and strengths that will inform the strategic direction of your case.
2. Compile a List of Questions
View your consultation as a mutual interview process. You will have the opportunity to pose questions to the attorney, and you can anticipate that the attorney will also inquire about your situation. This exchange allows both parties to assess the legal merits of your case and determine compatibility. Prepare a list of questions in advance, covering topics such as legal options, potential job-related implications, documentation requirements, the attorney’s experience in employment law, previous cases with similar fact patterns, trial experience, case handling, and preferred modes of communication.
Here are some examples of questions to ask a sexual harassment lawyer:
1. What legal options do I have in my specific situation?
2. How might pursuing a sexual harassment case affect my current job and future career prospects?
3. Can you share any previous cases with fact patterns similar to mine?
4. How long have you practiced employment law? What is your experience with sexual harassment cases?
5. Who will be working on my case within your firm, and what roles will they play?
6. Can you foresee any potential challenges with my claim?
7. What are some potential outcomes or settlements that I can realistically expect?
8. Are there any immediate steps I should take before proceeding with this case?
3. Understand Common Defenses
Familiarizing yourself with common defenses that employers may raise against sexual harassment claims empowers you to bolster your case. While the specific defenses employed will hinge on the particulars of your situation, some typical defenses include allegations of false claims, disputes over whether the conduct qualifies as illegal sexual harassment, assertions that an internal complaint or the EEOC administrative process wasn’t properly followed, lack of evidence found during the EEOC investigation, and the assertion that the named defendant is not responsible for the harassment. Your attorney will scrutinize the evidence and anticipate potential defenses to craft a robust case.
Consult with Swartz Swidler’s Sexual Harassment Attorneys in New Jersey
If you believe you have grounds for a sexual harassment claim in the workplace, it’s imperative to consult with an experienced employment lawyer. Remember, in your pursuit of justice, remember that you are not alone. With the right legal counsel and clear communication, you can navigate the complexities of your situation and seek a resolution that upholds your rights and dignity. Swartz Swidler’s New Jersey sexual harassment attorneys possess a wealth of experience advocating for the rights of harassment victims. Our lawyers are prepared to guide you through the legal process and elucidate your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at (856) 685-7420.