Sexual harassment in the workplace—whether federal or not—is a huge problem. Every year, thousands of incidents are reported.
But, unfortunately, many more incidents occur without notice because the victims are afraid to take action. Who will believe their story? How will they prove their case in the courtroom?
The main issue for many sexual harassment victims is that they think that they’re all alone. Additionally, without any witnesses to support their claims, there believe there is no way to convince a judge or jury that anything occurred.
Luckily, that is not the case. People understand that abusers know how to hide their actions, so they are willing to look past the fact that there are no witnesses. Rather, they look for consistency and details in a victim’s story on which to properly assess its merits.
If you’re a victim of sexual harassment, it is critical to your case that you document every single detail in order to give more weight to your version of events. This means keeping any notes, texts, emails, phone records, and even pictures. Keeping a diary or journal is another effective way to document any incidents of sexual harassment.
The following are several ways to strengthen your sexual harassment claim:
- Record each incident in a timely manner – When an incident occurs, do not wait until a day or two later to record it. As soon as the incident happens, write down everything in as much detail as possible while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Every detail matters – Not only should you include the actual events that transpired, but also the location, the time, the exact words that were used, what the harasser was wearing at the time, and anyone who may have been nearby.
- Be clear and concise – Make sure you tell the harasser that his/her actions are offensive and prohibited. Legally, that is the difference between actual harassment and an office flirtation. Document exactly what you said and did to discourage the harasser.
- Be assertive – You should immediately file a complaint with your employer, the human resources department, or whatever accountability system the company offers if the harassment continues. Keep a record of who you spoke with and when. If this fails, or there is no reporting method, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Ensure that you keep a copy of your journal in a safe place, away from the workplace. If your journal is in the form of an online document, back it up onto a cloud drive or a thumb drive (or both) for additional storage. A well-kept journal can help paint a clear picture of the sexual harassment you experienced at work to a jury, in the event the case goes to trial.