Sexual harassment, a common form of gender discrimination, has been a hot topic in the news during the last year, with some very high profile cases. Studies have shown that up to 38 percent of women in the workforce have experienced sexual harassment from a male employer. Of those, over 70 percent did not report the incidents. This is mostly because the process of reporting sexual harassment can be intimidating and sometimes humiliating for the victim.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, either from an employer or a colleague, it is important to remember that you have the right to a safe and harassment-free work environment. An employment attorney in the Fort Lauderdale area can help you take the first steps in fighting back against sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination. Take the following eight steps if you think you are experiencing harassment at work.
1. Take notes
In some cases, an employer will offer a job in return for sexual favors. This is known as "quid pro quo sexual harassment." Other types of harassment that fall into this category include threats of demotion or discipline if you do not perform sexual acts. If you experience this kind of harassment, take notes of the entire encounter, including time, place, date, and the names of anyone that may have witnessed the encounter.
2. Document a hostile environment
A hostile work environment exists when your employer and colleague harass you based on your gender. This is one of the most common types of harassment that workers experience. In these cases, employees are often the subject of sexual comments or treated as an inferior due to gender. Just like in the above scenario, take detailed notes about these incidents and any attempts you make to report the issue to Human Resources or a supervisor.
3. Protect your notes
Keep in mind that your notes are evidence. Be sure to keep them in a safe place where another employee cannot access them. You keep your notes in your purse or something else that is your personal property.
4. Keep copies
If any harassment has taken place through emails or texting, keep copies. Do not delete these communications. Also, keep the copies in a secure place. Just like your notes, these messages will be evidence when you make your case.
5. File a report
Before you bring your case to court, you must report the harassment. This will give your employer a chance to deal with the discriminating behavior and fix the problem. Make sure you follow the company's guidelines for reporting harassment. If the problem persists and your employer does not take corrective action, or if you experience retaliation for making the report, it is time to consider taking the next step.
6. Report it to the EEOC
The next step you should take if your employer does not fix the situation is to file a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
7. Get an employee rights attorney
If you are experiencing harassment, contact an attorney for help with the complaint process and the possible need to file a lawsuit. An attorney in the Fort Lauderdale area can help you follow the course of legal actions in order to strengthen your chances of getting the justice you deserve.
8. Find another job
If your workplace is hostile and your employer will not take the necessary steps to correct the problem, do not feel like you have to stay there. You have the right to a safe environment and sometimes that means finding a new job.