Tips For Protecting Yourself From And Documenting Sexual Harassment
The current media coverage of sexual harassment in Hollywood has given rise to a whole new focus on proper behavior and mutual respect. Men and women alike find themselves victims of sexual harassment, so it's in everyone's best interest to understand how to protect themselves and ensure that they have sufficient information for a lawsuit, should there have to be one. Here are a few tips that will help you to ensure that you are protected and legally covered if you ever suffer an instance of sexual harassment.
Comprehensive Documentation Is Essential
Without a clearly documented record of the behavior, you won't have anything to support your claims. Even if you suspect that an instance is a one-time thing, you should keep a record of it. Your records should include dates, times, locations, and the circumstances surrounding the instance. Write down the precise comments made by the offender, take pictures of any kind of physical evidence, and describe the entire situation in as great of detail as possible.
If anything is communicated via email, text, voicemail, or any other documentable means, save the copies of it. It's also important that you duplicate that copy so that you don't lose your evidence in the event that something happens to the first one.
Clear Communication Of Your Disinterest Is Important
One of the most difficult things for anyone to do, especially if the harassment occurs in the workplace, is to be vocal about the fact that they want it to stop. Whether it's from fear of losing their job, concerns about escalation, or worries about any kind of retribution, many people remain silent in the face of sexual harassment.
Remember that sexual harassment, by definition, is unwanted attention, so you have to make it clear to the individual that you don't want them behaving the way that they are. Be clear, emphatic, and assertive about the fact that you want the behavior to stop. Don't make any attempt to soften the blow by adding any emoticons or anything like that, because you don't want to leave any room for questions or interpretation.
Knowing Your Company's Policies For Workplace Harassment Is Imperative
One reason why many workplace victims don't report their sexual harassment is because they aren't aware of the ways to do so or what constitutes sexual harassment in their workplace. Check your employee handbook and any documentation from your company's website and human resources department to find out who the designated individual is to file your complaint with. Make sure you understand what your company deems to be sexual harassment and then file the report correctly. Don't do it verbally. You need documentation of the complaint, so file it in writing. Do the same about any kind of retaliation you face, if any, once you've filed the complaint. Keep records of this retaliation as you would any other harassment or associated issues.
Filing A Police Report For Criminal Actions Is Vital
If you are assaulted, whether physically or sexually, remember that it is a crime. Treat it as such. File a report with your local law enforcement agency immediately so that they can investigate the incident and take the appropriate action. The longer you wait to file your report, the lesser the chances that they will be able to get the evidence needed for the case.
Contacting A Sexual Harassment Lawyer Is Crucial
No matter where the sexual harassment takes place, contacting a lawyer to help you with the case is important. The sooner you do so, the easier it will be for him or her to build a case that will help you. In addition, remember that there is a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for sexual harassment, so if you wait too long, you may not be eligible to seek restitution. The statute of limitations usually begins as of the date of the last incident, so the sooner you contact your attorney, the better.