You’re facing sexual harassment in the workplace. It happens on a regular basis. Maybe you have a boss who tries to use their position within the company to force you into a relationship. Maybe you have a coworker who constantly pesters you; you don’t think they even want a relationship, but they want the power that comes with using someone else’s gender against them.
You know it’s wrong. You can feel it. When you tell your friends, they act astounded and appalled. You know you want to take action.
Your concern, though, is that you will make a mistake. Maybe you won’t offer enough proof. The HR department will ignore your claims or sweep it under the rug. Then you fear the other person will retaliate. You could lose your job.
Retaliation is illegal
First and foremost, you need to know that retaliation is illegal. You can’t get fired for making a valid claim. You should not have to worry about your job or your career. Yes, this can feel intimidating. There’s no way around that. But you need to know that the law is on your side. It does offer you some protection.
What to document
Secondly, you want to provide as much proof as you can, and that means documenting what is happening. Some things to consider include:
- Text messages the other person sent you
- Social media messages that you got on your personal devices or work devices
- Email communications that were sent to you or sent to others about you
- Social media posts that were made publicly
- Voicemail messages that they left for you
- Letters and notes that they gave to you
You can save any type of communication. You can take pictures with your phone and upload them to the cloud. You can take screenshots. You can make copies of physical letters. Do everything you can to protect these pieces of evidence, especially if the other person could delete them — as they can with a social media post, for instance.
You also want to document things that did not come in electronic or physical form. If someone harasses you in person, take notes after it. Write down what happened, where you were and if anyone else saw it. If they did, get a statement from the witness to back it up.
Learning about your rights
Feeling concerned about coming forward with something like this is natural. Again, remember that you do have rights. You do have legal protections. You do not need to worry. Make sure you know what steps to take and how to put an end to this situation.