Harassment |
January 23, 2017

What You Can Do to Stop Sexual Harassment at Work

San Francisco lawyers protecting clients from sexual harassment at work

As San Francisco lawyers who handle sexual harassment and other employment discrimination cases, we understand how difficult it is for sexual harassment victims to work in a hostile environment. Insults based on gender or sexual identity, requests for sexual favors, inappropriate touching, and other unlawful workplace behaviors make it difficult or impossible for employees to perform their jobs adequately.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the San Francisco Bay Area, you should seek legal advice. In the meantime, here are some things for you to consider when faced with sexual harassment at work.

Read the Sexual Harassment Policy

protecting yourself from sexual harassment at workMost large employers have developed a sexual harassment policy. They generally provide the policy in writing to employees at the time they are hired. Sometimes the policy appears in an employee handbook. Some employers may distribute it as a separate document. It might also be posted on a bulletin board with other important work-related announcements.

It is important for employees experiencing sexual harassment to read, understand, and follow the sexual harassment policy. In some cases, a failure to follow the policy will affect an employee’s ability to bring a successful sexual harassment claim. Unless the harassment is extreme, or is committed by a business owner, supervisor or manager, the employee usually has an obligation to report the harassment and to give the employer a chance to correct it before bringing a legal claim.

If you are unaware of a formal sexual harassment policy, contact the HR department, your supervisor, or some other managerial-level employee to ask whether one exists. Obtain a copy and follow its instructions. If you aren’t sure what to do, contact a San Francisco lawyer who represents sexual harassment victims.

Report the Problem to the Employer

Most sexual harassment policies designate a specific person to whom complaints of harassment should be made. In larger businesses, that person often works in the HR department. In small businesses, the designated person might be the owner or the employee’s supervisor.

Once you have identified the person to whom the complaint should be made, contact that person and explain the problem in detail. In many cases, it is a good idea to follow up in writing to confirm the details of your conversation. If you are uncomfortable with the reporting procedure (for example, if the person to whom a complaint should be made is the person who is harassing you), get advice from a San Francisco lawyer who handles sexual harassment cases.

If your employer has no sexual harassment policy, consider whether you can report the problem to a management-level employee. If the employer has a personnel or HR department, that’s probably the place to start. When you alert that person to the problem, ask if there is someone else in the company you should talk to about it.

Consider a Restraining Order

California law permits victims to obtain a restraining order against someone who has committed or threatened abuse, or who has engaged in stalking, sexual assault, or serious harassment. Whether a civil harassment restraining order is the best way to stop sexual harassment in the workplace depends upon the circumstances. Some employers will offer assistance to employees in seeking a restraining order. It is wise to ask for guidance from a California attorney who handles sexual harassment claims before applying for a restraining order. In some cases, an act of sexual harassment can be both a civil and a criminal violation. If the behavior constitutes a crime, then the employee should consider contacting the police to file a police report.

Ask for Legal Advice

A San Francisco lawyer who represents clients who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace is well positioned to advise employees about the best way to protect themselves against future acts of harassment. Employees who quit because they can no longer endure a hostile work environment can seek legal remedies, but remedies are also available for employees who want to keep their jobs without being targeted by sexual harassment.

The employment lawyers at San Francisco’s Minnis & Smallets have substantial experience advising clients who need protection from sexual harassment in the workplace. To learn how Minnis & Smallets can help you, call us at 1-415-551-0885 or submit our online contact form.