Tips to Help Prove Your Sexual Harassment Claim
Encountering sexual harassment in the workplace is an intimidating experience. Although nothing can truly compensate you for having to endure this situation, numerous city, state and federal laws provide protections for employees against sexual harassment. These laws allow individuals who have been the subject of sexual harassment to seek compensation for any harm that they have suffered. For many employees, knowing how to proceed after experiencing harassment can be difficult, but there are a few simple tips that can help you build a stronger claim. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment attorneys have substantial experience litigating these cases and understand what it takes to advocate for your rights.Understanding the Components of a Sexual Harassment Claim
Sexual harassment encompasses a wide variety of conduct and actions. It includes unwelcome romantic and sexual advances, verbal and physical gestures, and requests for sexual favors, which are also known as “quid pro quo” harassment. The harasser does not need to be a supervisor or employer for you to be protected under the law. Instead, a colleague and in some instances a third party can trigger a sexual harassment claim. If an employer maintains an environment in which sexual harassment is allowed to occur, the employer can be held liable for fostering a hostile work environment and for failing to correct it. The harassing conduct does not need to take place in the confines of the office. It can occur at a holiday or office party or through communications outside normal work hours, among other examples.Tips to Help Prove Your Case
- Document: The first step in proving your sexual harassment claim is to document any instances in which an employer or colleague makes a request for a sexual favor in exchange for something else. Common examples include requests for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or raise. If the individual threatens you for failing to comply with the request, make a note of that as well. Often, harassers will make these quid pro quo requests in private when no witnesses are around to hear them, so having a thorough and precise record of the incident is important. When it comes to a hostile work environment, be sure to note any comments that are harassing in nature. Comments do not need to be directed at a specific person or be overt to constitute sexual harassment. Note the date, location, and time the comment was made, in addition to who was present or who may have overheard the statement.
- Report: Report any behavior that is unwanted or offensive to your supervisor or human resources department. This should be done in writing. An email, a fax, or even certified letter can be a great way to make your employer aware of the issue and at the same time, provide proof that you did so. Reporting sexual harassment (and proving that you did report it) can be particularly important, if after rejecting unwanted advances or notifying the employer, you are later fired.
- Storage of Proof: Keep any notes, recordings or emails you make about these incidents private, kept in a secure place (like a work bag) and be sure the employer or a colleague cannot access them. If a supervisor terminates you, he or she may prevent you from taking any documents or items from the premises-including your desk. Thus, it is usually a good idea to keep the notes in your bag, purse, or briefcase, or at home. It is also a good idea to check whether your employer has any procedures or policies regarding sexual harassment or reporting incidents of this misconduct.
- Sexual Harassment by the Owner or High Level Manager, Sometimes the person doing the harassing is a high level manager, owner or president of the company. In those instances many people feel they have nowhere to turn. Contacting a sexual harassment attorney can be help. You can also file a charge of sexual harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New York State Division of Human Rights or the New York City Commission of Human Rights if you work in Manhattan or the five boroughs.
- Medical Treatment: If the sexual harassment is causing you physical injuries and/or emotional damages it’s important to seek medical treatment. Many people are embarrassed or feel they cannot seek treatment and suffer the emotional pain alone. A good place to start is your primary care doctor, therapist, gynecologist, or other medical provider. They will be able to refer you to the proper health provider.
- Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney: A sexual harassment attorney can guide you through the process and discuss your legal options. Many attorneys have free consultations.
If you have experienced misconduct in the workplace, call us today to discuss your situation. The New York City sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates have provided knowledgeable guidance to workers in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about the legal rights and remedies that may be available to you. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us online to set up an appointment with a gender discrimination attorney.