A sexual harassment case is always complicated. Not only that victims are more fragile emotionally, but it can also be challenging to find a lawyer who is willing to represent you. You should make sure that you have a legitimate case before you go to see a lawyer.
Organization and planning are crucial, so you should try to collect yourself and prepare everything before you go to court. We have some tips and information that should make the entire process more straightforward for you.
Before we get started, it is essential that you know what is considered sexual harassment. The state law or the federal should cover your employer who is responsible for sexual harassment. There are different antiharassment laws based on the state you live in. In some instances, small employers might be covered as well.
What is considered sexual harassment?
If we were to define sexual harassment, we could say that it is any type of unwelcome sexual advance, or sexual nature, whether it is verbal or physical conduct. Gender-based comments or gestures can also be considered sexual harassment.
The actions must have offended you, and they should be considered severe by any person. If the gesture was not a serious one it won’t be regarded as sexual harassment, even if you were offended. In fact, one of the conditions is that the conduct must be “severe and pervasive.” One single incident is not considered severe enough. However, if it is something that occurs on a daily basis, it would be regarded as harassment.
Harassing work environment
Your work environment could be harassing as well. This happens when there are offensive objects, such as vulgar posters, or when there is offensive conduct, which includes various things such as nudity. A hostile environment could also have employers that make offensive comments very often. Sexual innuendos, dirty jokes fall under this category.
Sexual harassment policies
You should obtain the employer’s sexual harassment policies so you will know exactly how to act. This handbook can be used in court since it shows that the employer is not able to respect its policies as well. You should take a look at the core values of your employer and find out how it wants to treat your employees. If there is not sexual harassment policy, this could be further proof that the company does not care about protecting its employees.
Different types of harassment
Sexual harassment can occur under many various forms. For example, the supervisor might be the one harassing a subordinate. In this situation, the employer is liable for harassment. However, things are a bit different when a co-worker harasses another coworker. In this case, the coworker must be notified of the harassment. This way he or she will have a chance to change. If this behavior continues, then it must be reported to a supervisor or a manager so that the employer can be held liable for sexual harassment.
It is essential to report harassment, and you will also need some sort of evidence that proves it. If you have any emails, notes, letters or reports, you should make sure that you have a copy as well. When you are harassed by a supervisor, you will need a different kind of evidence, such as texts, emails as well as any possible witnesses.
Sexual Harassment is possible even between two persons of the same gender. If there are two men or two men, it is still considered sexual harassment, and this cannot be used as a defense in court.
A lawsuit against the company
If your employer doesn’t do anything to protect you might want to file a lawsuit against your company. In order to do this, there should be documented attempts at reporting the incidents. As long as you have everything in writing, you will be able to use it as proof in court.
Going public with your story will help you share your experience, and it could be considered evidence. Additionally, doing this might help you discover supporters. You will also manage to expose your harasser. Nonetheless, if you make everything public you should be aware that could be negative consequences as well. Intimidation and threats are common in such situations.
Find out whether there are other victims
Most sexual harassers don’t limit themselves just to one person. Therefore, you should see if there are other victims in your company. If there are you can work together and testify against your harasser. Word usually gets around, and you can discover precious information by talking to your co-workers. It is easy to feel afraid when you are alone, but there can be strength in numbers.
You will need witnesses in court so you should create a list of all potential witnesses. Make sure you add anonymous witnesses as well. Each testimony is crucial for your case, and it could influence the verdict. Witness statements are compelling, but you should make your witnesses sign their statements.
Control your behavior
Your credibility could be affected by your action, so you should be very careful at work. For example, if you respond to the harasser’s jokes, this could be considered a sign that you are not offended. There will be background investigations which means that all employees will be interviewed.
Criminal complaints are an option
If we are talking about more than just harassment and you have been sexually assaulted, you can go straight to the police. However, you should check first what is your state’s definition of rape. In some states, rape might be considered sexual assault. Sodomy is also considered a crime in specific areas. While it is hard to relive your experience, reporting it will help you feel safe as well, and you might protect future victims as well.
In most sexual harassment cases alcohol is involved. Sexual assault or battery occur after the harasser of the victim consumed alcohol. You should avoid social drinking during work events in order to stay safe. You should be extra careful when it comes to out of town conferences.
Hire a sexual harassment attorney
It is vital to hire an excellent Sexual Harassment Attorney. There are plenty of things you should take into account. First of all, look at his or her experience. Sexual harassment cases can be a bit different from other kinds of situations so you should hire someone who is experienced enough.
Additionally, sexual harassment victims are more vulnerable, which means they should hire a compassionate attorney who is able to understand their problems. Your case should be treated as a priority.
You should see exactly how sexual harassment hurt you. For example, if you lose your pay, this could be one of the consequences. There could be other damages as well. For example, if the harasser could use a promotion to blackmail you.
File your complaint as soon as possible
When you file your complaint, you should make sure that you do it in a timely manner. There are specific deadlines for submitting complaints in some states. You can ask your lawyer to find out when your complaint is.
Talk to your employer
If your co-worker harasses you, you should try to talk with the employer. While you are filing your complaint make sure that you are separated from the person harassing you. It is difficult to work with your harasser so you should ask your employer to separate you. It would be recommended to have that person removed from the company during this time.
During these times you will need plenty of support so you should turn to your family and friends. You will need help when it comes to filing your claims and grievances. Additionally, you will need support in order to go on with your life.
Keep a journal
It can be beneficial to keep a journal with all the incidents. Write all the dates as well as the details. Since most victims tend to suppress their memories, it would be better to write down everything so you will be able to remember all the details.
Appearing on the witness stand
You will be asked to appear on the witness stand, and this is a critical moment which could determine your verdict. Therefore, you should prepare yourself adequately and take into account all the little things. For example, you should attract the sympathy of the jury, but don’t exaggerate. Your story should also be credible, and you should make sure that you are dressed appropriately.
Take care of yourself
Sexual harassment is a traumatic experience, and it can lead to emotional distress. Therefore, you should take care of yourself. Anxiety, depression or other symptoms are all things that can occur. Talk to your doctors and see if you need treatment.
Unless you seek medical treatment, your emotional distress damages will be overlooked in court. Therapy will also help you get better, and it will make a recovery faster.