Sexual harassment is a tough topic to talk to many people about. If the harassment occurs in the workplace, there are a lot of issues that arise. The victim of sexual harassment may worry about the effect on his or her career if the harassment is reported. Keeping the harassment quiet and hoping it goes away can lead to physical and emotional problems for the victim, and often emboldens the harasser, which can make the harassment worse.
Fortunately, there is help available under the law. Sexual harassment (or sexual discrimination) are illegal in the workplace under both state and federal law. The employer can be held responsible for the harassment, whether it is perpetrated by a supervisor, another employee, or even a customer or a contractor.
If you are being sexually harassed, it’s important that you stand up for yourself to make the harassment stop. The aggressor must be confronted. If your company has a human resources department, they should be notified. You should also consider consulting an attorney at the outset. The attorney can advise you on how to communicate to the aggressor that the harassment must stop. If you don’t let the harasser know in no uncertain terms that such conduct will not be tolerated, it will become worse over time. You may wish to gather evidence for the HR department, as well as any future legal claim, such as texts, emails, and any observations from anyone who saw the harassment occur.
It often helps to talk through what may happen if you confront the harasser. A skilled employment attorney can help you with preparing a script for what you should say to the harasser, rather than just making it up as you go along. Bullies often respond well to specific actions and time tables, such as “If you don’t stop what you are doing immediately, my attorney will be filing a lawsuit within two weeks” rather than “If you don’t stop I will call an attorney soon”.
What often happens in sexual harassment situations is that the initial behavior is very mild. The harasser may make playful comments, which will turn into jokes or suggestive comments, and then will progress from there into unwanted touching or other advances. Often, the victim is too scared for his or her job to say anything to the harasser, and just hopes it will stop. The victim may believe that calling an attorney means a lawsuit. The victim may be too afraid of the situation to take any steps to stop the harassment. The initial jokes may be so mild that the victim doesn’t say anything for fear of not appearing to have a sense of humor or to avoid being disliked. In many cases an attorney isn’t involved until the harassment has gone well past playful jokes.
However, it’s always best to have an advocate fighting on your side during any matter involving discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Bullies know how to take advantage of any situation, and may not respond to anyone other than an attorney. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no one should be forced to work in an atmosphere of intimidation and harassment. Micha Star Liberty fights for the rights of employees who are being mistreated at work. If you have been mistreated in the workplace, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland sexual harassment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients who have had their legal rights violated in the workplace. Call today to learn more.