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By John Kristensen of Kristensen Weisberg, LLP posted in Employment Law -- Employee on Saturday, April 27, 2019.
What To Do If You’ve Been Sexually Harassed in the Workplace

Workplace environments often expose us to a number of dynamics that differ drastically from the rest of our lives. As employees, we often need to deal with unpleasant requests or situations that we would not otherwise tolerate – unrealistic deadlines, personality conflicts, and unfair expectations can all be par for the course. As a result of the realities of workplace requirements, conflict or problems can feel even more uncomfortable and cause even more stress than they otherwise would – most people cannot afford to just quit their job, so it can feel terrible to deal with whatever is thrown at you, all while feeling trapped or like you just need to get through it.

None of that applies to sexual harassment, which should never be tolerated. Sexual harassment is not something to ‘get through’ or ‘deal with’ – it is something to stop. It is a predatory crime, which is often the result of a power imbalance that one party is abusing at the expense of another. If you believe that you or someone you love is being harassed, here are steps you can take.

Document the offenses. Even if it’s just for your own personal record, document any instances with dates and times and descriptions so you have it later so you don’t need to rely on memory if things escalate.

If you feel comfortable and safe, tell the perpetrator to stop. Sometimes people do not realize the consequences of their actions, and other times they are testing to see what they can get away with. Neither is acceptable, but in many cases being directly told to stop will stop the unwanted behavior.

If you do not feel comfortable, see if your workplace has a harassment policy. This policy will tell you how harassment is handled, which likely means where you can file a complaint or who you can talk to. If you don’t know, ask a human resources representative if it exists.

If no such policy exists, talk to a superior. This can be your supervisor, the supervisor of the person harassing you, any supervisor you trust, or the HR department. Explain the situation, with documentation if possible, and ask for their help. Remember, you are protected from retaliation for reporting harassment or participating in an investigation or lawsuit.

Speak to an attorney. If the harassment has not stopped, or if your workplace unlawfully retaliates, seek representation. Our office will protect you, your interests, and seek justice on your behalf.