Sexual harassment often makes victims feel helpless and alone. Victims will begin to feel powerless, especially if the act happens at their place of employment. There have been many times when a victim of sexual harassment has spoken to another employee and confided in them, and then the other employee tells them there is nothing they can do, and they should just ignore it. No matter where sexual harassment takes place, it is not to be ignored and you should never be silenced.
A 2015 Cosmopolitan survey reported that one in three women have been the victim of sexual harassment at work. Of those women, more than 70% of them never reported their abuse. Many employees are worried about retaliation from the employer if they try to bring a claim in court. There are many actions, informal and formal, that may be taken to make the responsible party accountable for their actions.
- Speak Up
In many cases involving hostile work environments, the responsible party may be unaware that their actions are inappropriate. If you have been a victim, and you do not speak out about the sexual harassment, the behavior will just keep happening. Worse, this behavior that made you feel uncomfortable is likely to happen to someone else if you keep quiet. It is your duty to tell the offending party that their actions were offensive and will not be tolerated. If this does not resolve the issue, it at least will put the offending party on notice that you found the conduct to be inappropriate.
- Hire a Lawyer
Although you may handle this situation on your own, it is advisable to consult an attorney. Employment lawyers know what must be done to protect your rights. You will want to find a lawyer that is experienced in the area of employment law. You have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment. Federal and New York State laws protect you from the horrifying oppression of sexual harassment.
- Follow Employer’s Procedure
Some companies provide their employees with a detailed procedure on what to do if you have been a victim of sexual harassment. Make sure you follow this procedure exactly as it is stated. For starters, many employers will provide a name of the person you should report sexual harassment too. That should be your first step.If your employer has not provided you with a person to whom you will report sexual harassment to, report it to your supervisor first. If your supervisor was the offending party, go to your supervisor’s boss, or another supervisor. In a situation of hostile work environments, it is extremely important that the employer’s management is aware of the situation.
- Keep a Record
As you report the offensive conduct, make sure you keep a record of your complaints. Include dates, times, persons involved, and what was said in each entry. This way, if you must take legal action, you have notes of all your attempts to stop the harassment, as well as the actual harassment, written down in a neat chronological order. Be sure to make a note of any witnesses.You will also want to keep a record of each sexual harassment action that you have been a victim of. One type of sexual harassment is known as “quid pro quo.” This involves you being offered a job or promotion if you keep quiet about the incident. It may also involve threats of your termination or demotion if you tell anyone. Another common type of harassment is known as “hostile environment.” A hostile environment is where you are being harassed specifically due to your gender. This can include sexual comments about your gender, treating your gender differently, or comments about your gender being inferior.
You may bring a civil lawsuit for any injuries suffered from the direct cause of the sexual harassment. If your suit is successful, your remedies may include:
- Reinstatement of your job
- Back pay
- Medical expenses
- Damages for physical and emotional distress
- Change in company policies
- Termination of offender
- Your attorney’s fees and litigation costs
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, contact an experienced New York employment law attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected. The attorneys at The Law Office of Steven Mitchell Sack are available to meet with you for a consultation today. Call (917) 371-8000 for an initial consultation or fill out our contact form.