5 Steps to Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim in CA

Sexual harassment is a serious wrongdoing no employee should have to endure. Sometimes sexual harassment is part of a workplace’s culture. In other cases, one or more coworkers perpetuate harassment based on sex, gender or sexual orientation. Still other employees face sexual harassment from supervisors, bosses, employers or customers. No matter what the situation, if you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you have the right to file a claim in California. Here are a few easy steps our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys recommend for filing a claim.

Document the Incident

Keep track of each incident where you felt someone was sexually harassing you or discriminating against you at work because of your sex. Write down a description of what happened, the names of parties involved and quotes from the offender. Documenting instances of sexual harassment in a journal can keep a clear record of illegal behaviors at your workplace. This could strengthen your case against a harasser or your employer later.

Follow Your Workplace’s Sexual Harassment Reporting Policy

Most workplaces in California have protocols to follow in sexual harassment, discrimination or assault situations. After experiencing harassment at work, go to Human Resources (HR) and report the incident. Describe what happened in detail, including the name of the offender and any witnesses. Do not fear retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. It is against the law for an employer or supervisor to retaliate against you for going to HR in the form of demotion, job termination or other punishments.

It is important to report sexual harassment to HR right away. Keeping the incident to yourself could hurt your chances of holding your employer legally accountable later. It may be difficult to come forward with your experience, but reporting to HR can hold coworkers, supervisors and even the institution liable for sexual harassment. If you do go to HR, write down when you reported the incident, who took your complaint and how the company addressed the issue.

Contact Law Enforcement

If you experience workplace sexual harassment to the degree of violence or sexual assault, call 911 immediately for help. Law enforcement will investigate the case and may press criminal charges against the perpetrator. See a health care provider right away to receive a comprehensive exam and appropriate medical care. If you need assistance or someone to talk to, call the national sexual assault hotline at (800) 656-HOPE.

File an Official Complaint

If a report to your company’s HR department did not remedy sexual harassment at work, file an official complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). This entity protects workers in California from unlawful sexual harassment and discrimination. The department can investigate your case and may even be able to help you pursue damages. You can also file an official complaint against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both entities take complaints online and over the phone.

Both departments can investigate your workplace for signs of sexual harassment or discrimination. The DFEH or the EEOC may then host a mediation with your employer to try to resolve the issue. In most cases, mediation will be enough to force the employer to take action to stop or prevent sexual harassment at work. If your employer’s response is unsatisfactory, however, you may take your case to court in California.

Hire a Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Taking your employer to court for sexual harassment may be the only way to recover financial damages, shed light on this issue at a company, and hold one or more parties accountable. If you believe you have grounds to file a civil claim against a sexual harasser and/or your employer, contact an attorney for legal counsel. A lawyer can review your case for grounds for a lawsuit. If you do have grounds to file a claim, your employment attorney can help you with all the steps involved in the legal process in California.