We’re not in the business of victim blaming. In fact, our goal is to empower the so-called “targets” of a hostile work environment. While employees who experience workplace sexual harassment aren’t responsible for their abuse, it’s important that they know the steps they do or don’t take after an incident can impact the strength of any future case against the aggressor.
Want to empower yourself despite workplace harassment? Consider this list of common mistakes sexual harassment victims make and how you can avoid them.
1. Failing to Confront the Harasser
This one is a little scary for some victims – especially if the harasser is an employee’s boss. That’s why it’s common that workers don’t inform harassers of their inappropriate behavior. Regardless of the discomfort, Title VII law—which covers all types of employee discrimination—requires the victim to notify the harasser of the offending incident(s). The affected employee must also directly express that the harasser should stop the unlawful conduct.
Avoid Mistakes: If you’re on edge about arranging a face-to-face meeting with your aggressor, write an email instead. The electronic notification will serve dual purpose – both informing the harasser of his or her actions and documenting the incident. Make sure the letter thoroughly explains any unwelcome verbal or physical conduct, as well as the dates and times of any incidents. Close the email by asking that your colleague discontinue similar actions.
2. Never Reporting Harassment to a Supervisor
Although some employees notify their harasser, others still fail to report the conduct to their boss. Furthermore, in some cases, the harasser is the employee’s supervisor, which blurs the employee’s potential escalation path. For this reason, some workers avoid reporting to circumvent potential workplace retaliation.
Avoid Mistakes: Reporting sexual harassment to a supervisor is a crucial step in building your case. It’s a means of garnering official documentation that can be used to support any failed attempts to end the harassment. If your supervisor is the harasser, document the inappropriate actions via his or her boss. In the event that the aggressor is a high-level executive, consider reporting any incidents to the HR department.
Are you worried about job loss or other retaliatory acts? Know that this unlawful practice is prosecutable under Title VII and you could be entitled to any back pay or benefits withheld based on illegal termination.
3. Never Documenting the Incidents
Since many employees often make the blunders above, they miss out on crucial opportunities to properly document the sexual harassment. Likewise, once the incidents are reported, some victims believe they needn’t record additional happenings.
Avoid Mistakes: Keep an on-the-job journal and record any further occurrences of sexual harassment. Furthermore, continue to report these instances to your supervisor or HR person. Again, the more detailed the accounts the better.
4. Not Contacting an Attorney
Most sexual harassment victims never get the justice they deserve because they don’t believe they’re entitled to it. Similarly, some victims may believe the incidents occurred too far in the past to be prosecuted.
Avoid Mistakes: If you took the actions above and the harassment continued, you may be entitled to compensatory damages – including emotional damages. You should also know that you have one year to file a sexual harassment claim under the Florida Civil Rights Act. Only an attorney can help you accurately determine if the statute of limitations on your case has passed.
Are you ready to take a key step in your sexual harassment case? Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. for a free consultation regarding your workplace discrimination or harassment situation.