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Taking steps toward filing a sexual harassment claim

Employees who are being subjected to sexual harassment know when it’s happening. Even though this kind of treatment makes employees uncomfortable and is completely unacceptable, it may not be exactly clear what steps can or should be taken.

Every case of sexual harassment is different, but there are some basic steps that can be followed to help that your rights are protected and the unfair treatment is put to an end.

The most important thing, perhaps, is to document instances of sexual harassment. If employers offer a promotion in exchange for unwanted sexual advances, keep a record of when it happened. At the same time, any written communications (email, text messages, etc.) that include harassments should also be saved.

Documentation should be stored in a safe place in order to find it easily later on. At the same time, it’s a good idea to have some sort of backup in case a computer crashes or other technology changes occur.

As you’re preparing to report the harassment, it’s critical to follow your employer’s sexual harassment policy. Most every company is mandated to include this in an employee handbook. Be sure to report this behavior to the appropriate party, such as human resources or a direct supervisor.

If your employers will not respond to your concerns, then it may be necessary to take action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is generally a step in the process to file a lawsuit anyway.

Of course, this process can seem intimidating, especially if you’re concerned about losing employment or further harassed at work. As such, it may be best to contact a lawyer as soon as the harassment becomes an issue. An experienced employment law attorney will know what interactions to document and when particular steps should be taken.

Even though it may be nerve-racking to deal with the issue, understand that you cannot be punished for asserting your legally granted workplace rights. Taking action is the first step in creating a healthier, more positive workplace environment.

Source: AOL Jobs, “How Do I Prove Sexual Harassment?” Donna Ballman, June 10, 2014

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