Between 2018 and 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported nearly 100,000 charges of workplace harassment. While sexual harassment comprised nearly one-third of those claims, there are many other types of discrimination and verbal, physical, or online harassment that can occur at work.
If you believe you’re being harassed at work, there are key steps you can take to protect yourself and try to stop the actions from occurring. Today, we’re sharing how to get started, and why it helps to have an experienced employment attorney by your side as you navigate the process.
Different Types of Workplace Harassment
There are many different ways you could encounter harassment at work. As soon as you notice the inappropriate behavior occurring, it’s important to make your HR or employee relations team aware of it. Everyone deserves to work in a safe, healthy environment that values their well-being.
Some of the different types of discrimination or harassment at work can be based on:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
The harassment can be physical, verbal, or even visual or in writing – both in person, through written communications, or online.
Each form of harassment can turn your workplace into an environment that feels threatening and dangerous. Most companies should have a policy in place that clearly details the points of contact in charge of handling harassment issues. Once your employer knows about the harassment, they have a legal responsibility to prevent and correct the problem.
Let’s review the steps you can take if you believe you’re being harassed at work.
Ask Your Harasser to Stop
If you feel safe and comfortable enough to do so, one of the first actions you can take is to ask the harasser to stop. Tell them you do not welcome their behavior, and will not tolerate it any further.
Review Your Anti-Harassment Policy
If the harasser refuses to stop their behavior or you don’t feel comfortable going to them directly, your next step is to review your company’s anti-harassment policy.
If you have a written employee handbook, the policy might be incorporated into that document. If not, it should be posted online. You can also reach out to your supervisor and/or HR department if you have trouble locating it.
According to California law, all employers with at least five employees must train employees on sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention. The law requires one hour of training for employees in non-supervisory roles and two hours of training for supervisory employees, conducted every two years.
Follow the steps outlined in the policy. You should have several options for reporting and escalating your harassment claim, including filing an official complaint.
Speak to a Supervisor
If your organization doesn’t have an anti-harassment policy in place, reach out to a trusted supervisor. This can be your own supervisor, the supervisor responsible for the person who is harassing you, or any other leader within the company. You can also reach out to someone in Human Resources if your company has a designated HR department.
Clearly explain what has been happening, and ask them to help you stop the offensive behavior. In addition to talking about the harassment, it’s also important to put the information into writing. Try to make your report as detailed as possible, covering the instances related to the harassment.
Contact the EEOC
If you don’t feel safe speaking to anyone at work about the harassment, you can also reach out to the EEOC (Equal Employement Opportunity Commission) or California CRD (Civil Rights Division). The contacts there will walk you through the steps required to file a charge of discrimination or harassment. If you decide to go this route, keep in mind that you must report the incidents within the given timeframe.
Work With an Employment Attorney
If you feel that you’re experiencing harassment in any way at work, it’s also smart to reach out to a local employment attorney. This legal expert can review your case and determine if it can be classified as harassment.
Then, they’ll help you complete the steps required to file a claim and make sure your voice is heard. Your attorney will be familiar with California’s workplace harassment laws and will help you understand how they apply to your situation. They know that you have the right to fair treatment and equal benefits in the workplace, and will defend you against hostile or discriminatory acts that threaten your health, safety, or security.
What About Retaliation?
Too often, employees allow harassment to continue because they’re worried about what will happen if they report it. They could be afraid they’ll lose their job or even fear that they’ll become a target for physical violence within or outside of the office.
It’s important to know that the law protects you from any form of retaliation (aka punishment) that you might experience for complaining about harassment. Not only do you have the right to report what’s happening, but you can also participate in a harassment investigation or lawsuit as required. Your attorney will make sure you’re legally protected as you seek the justice you deserve.
Are You Being Harassed at Work?
Workplace harassment can affect every aspect of your life, turning your workplace into an uncomfortable or even dangerous environment. If you believe that you’re being harassed at work, contact Matern Law Group today.
Our team of experienced employment lawyers will work tirelessly to protect and defend your rights. We can identify all forms of harassment and discrimination and will hold your abusers accountable for their actions. We know these legal cases can be complicated and challenging to work through, especially if you’re emotionally distraught over the events.
You don’t have to face the next steps alone. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and let’s take them together.