It’s Not Easy to Talk About Sexual Harassment
Let’s face it, sexual harassment is not something that is pleasant to talk about, particularly when it involves you. Victims of workplace sexual harassment are naturally reluctant to talk about the harassment which they suffered at the hands of their harasser. There are many reasons for this, for example, feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Sometimes, unfortunately, the harassment becomes so bad that the employee feels that they have no choice but to complain, hoping that a friendly nudge might fix everything. Most people do not want to cause waves or create problems for themselves or for others.
It’s Better to Be Direct When Reporting Sexual Harassment To HR
For the abovementioned reasons, folks sometimes avoid reporting sexual harassment in a direct and straightforward manner. Oftentimes the victim of sexual harassment will, in his or her complaint to the company, downplay the events that have transpired and the things that have been said. They will use benign adjectives and omit foul language in an attempt to make their “complaint” more “professional.” This, of course, is not good.
The very purpose of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace is to make it stop from reoccurring. A report of sexual harassment is not something which an employer can lawfully ignore. To the contrary, every employer in California has the legal obligation to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace, and one of the ways in which this is done is through prompt, thorough, and unbiased investigations. In other words, the very purpose of a sexual harassment complaint is to put the employer on notice of something wrong taking place in the workplace and triggering their obligation under the law to do something about it.
When victims of sexual harassment downplay and sanitize the substance of their complaint, they run the risk of failing to trigger the employer’s obligation to intervene. While no magic words are necessary to make a sexual harassment complaint, it certainly helps to provide as much facts and information as possible so that the gravity of the situation can be conveyed. HR employees are not mind readers, and even though they should ask follow-up questions to get to the bottom of the issue, that doesn’t always happen; and it would not be in the employee’s best interest to simply leave that to chance.
It Is Ideal to Document Sexual Harassment To HR
For the abovementioned reasons, folks sometimes avoid formally reporting sexual harassment in writing and opting instead to bring it up casually in conversation instead. This, too, can be a mistake. It is important to remember that sexual harassment in the workplace can create liability for the employer and not only the harasser. For this reason, a lot of HR professionals will attempt to avoid creating a paper trail of the complaint being made.
Some HR professionals will try to construe the sexual harassment complaint as something different from a sexual harassment complaint, like a benign personality dispute. For this reason, among others, it would behoove the employee to complain in writing so that there is no later dispute about what exactly was said.
Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. has Advice for Potential Victims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Always contact a legal professional to discuss the specific circumstances of a potential sexual harassment case. Attorneys at Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. are experienced employment lawyers. We offer a complimentary case evaluation and contingency fee services to victims of sexual harassment and victims of sexual assault. View our case results and testimonials to learn more. For legal help with sexual harassment, visit us.