Top 7 Things to do if You are a Victim of Workplace Harassment
Harassment, as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (beginning at age 40), disability, or genetic information.”
Workplace harassment becomes unlawful when it becomes an ongoing part of one’s continued employment and if the behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment that any reasonable individual would find abusive or intimidating.
If you are a victim of workplace harassment, there are things you can do to help protect yourself such as keeping note of the ongoing behavior and contacting an employment lawyer for workplace harassment issues in Columbus, Ohio. So, let’s take a look at the top 7 things you can do if you are a victim of workplace harassment.
Keep in Mind It’s Not Your Fault
One thing to keep in mind when you are dealing with workplace harassment of any kind is that it is not your fault. Any employee, as protected under federal law, has the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment.
Whether it is based on color, religion, sex, age, or disability, harassment in the workplace makes for a hostile environment that can affect an employee’s overall work performance and general health. As laid out by the EEOC, a harassment victim can even be “anyone affected by the offensive conduct” that is taking place.
Use Resources Available to You
Take the time to review your workplace’s employee handbook or check out resources outside of your workplace as well. There may be resources available to you if you are facing workplace harassment that you didn’t even realize. These resources may vary but can include:
- A company or organization Equal Employment Opportunity officer, who may serve as a liaison between your workplace and the U.S.’s Civil Rights Center
- See if there are any specific policies or protocols to handle workplace harassment
- Speak with a harassment or hostile work environment lawyer for workplace issues in Columbus, Ohio
Keep Notes on the Harassment
Keeping notes on the harassment is a big step. You should keep notes of the harassment you are facing from the first time it happens. Notes provide written documentation of the ongoing harassment and can include details like:
- Who the harasser is
- Time and date
- Type of harassment
- Potential witnesses
Consider Reporting the Harassment
Reporting the harassment or hostile work environment you are facing can be a scary thing to do. But if your workplace has specific harassment policies in place or if you have spoken with a workplace harassment lawyer already, it might be time to report the harassment. A hostile work environment attorney can help to advise you.
Should you report the harassment, be sure to keep a written record of all communications. This can include things like the initial report, your employer’s actions or non-actions after the harassment is reported, and the notes you have taken on the harassment.
Have Your Own Records
Be sure to keep your own records. This can include both physical and digital copies of your notes on your own computer and other records such as:
- Work evaluations
- Communications about your work performance
- Relevant documents from your harasser
- A witness list
Your records will be helpful when you go to report the harassment or when you speak with a lawyer about next steps.
Speak With a Workplace Harassment Lawyer in Ohio
When it comes to workplace harassment, you might not know the ins and outs of the legal process that can be part of reporting the harassment. Speaking with a harassment lawyer who specializes in employment law can be an important step for you.
They can provide insight into what laws can apply to your unique situation and what legal options you can take if the situation escalates further.
File with the EEOC
For some, you may not feel comfortable reporting workplace harassment to your place of employment itself. You can file a discrimination charge with the EEOC in lieu of filing with your workplace. Filing can be done online or in person at the closest EEOC office to you. A workplace harassment attorney can help to guide you through this process.
Time limits do apply to when you can file a discrimination charge. As of 2021, it sits at 180 days with some state laws extending that time.
Keep in mind these are general, informational tips that help to give you an idea of where to get started when you are facing workplace harassment.