Both state and federal civil laws protect employees from being harassed in the workplace. If you find you are unable to do your job because of the way you are being treated by your supervisor, coworkers, or even in some cases customers' comments, you might be able to file a lawsuit in court for compensation. Before your complaint is taken seriously you will have to provide enough evidence to prove the harassment took place.
Evidence to Help Support Your Workplace Harassment Claim
The commonest ways of telling your employer about the harassment is by writing a polite complaint letter describing the harassment. However, you will need to include as much evidence as you can with the letter to help ensure that your complaint is taken seriously.
The sorts of evidence that may help to support your workplace harassment may include the following:
- documents like emails, text messages, comments made on social media;
- Intra-office communications that shows signs of harassment;
- testimonies from co-workers who have been treated in a similar way;
- testimonies written by witnesses who saw the way you were treated;
- physical evidence such as photos or objects that were used to harass you;
- your log detailing the harassment events;
- copies of complaints you have may have already filed with your employer and any responses you received;
- medical records or a report written by your doctor or psychiatrist about how the harassment had caused harm to you.
The evidence you file shouldn’t just be related to the odd comment made by a co-worker as you will need some evidence that the harassment is more than just a one off event.
If you want your harassment claim to be successful, you are required to prove that it was both persistent and repetitive.
The only way to ensure your evidence is suitable is to record all harassing comments, take photos of behavior so that you can create visual images and other events in some sort of log that you can present as evidence.
You should make note of when any harassment occured as well as the names of any witnesses. Write down information like the date, time and location of the incident as well as any events that took place leading up to the harassment.
How to File a Claim
As soon as you have gathered all the evidence you can about the workplace harassment and in order for it to be classified as illegal, it has to be based on your membership of a protected class which is found in state and federal laws. The harassment must be severe, relentless and repetitive and not just one isolated event, such as if a co-worker blurts out an insensitive comment to you in the workplace.
But if that same person makes comments that are discriminatory over a long period of time and are because you are a member of a protected class, this could mean you have the right to file a harassment claim.
The best way to begin the workplace harassment claim is to write a complaint letter to your boss or your employer’s Human Resources department. You should start to complain as soon as the first hint of harassment has taken place.
The HR department will record your complaint and it must ask the harasser to explain the harassment. You can also send an email to your harasser to show you object and ask that the harassment is stopped.
In the email, you should mention the exact date and time of the harassment and where it took place. All communication with the harasser should be saved for later use as evidence in court. This should include emails, text messages and voicemail.
If your harassment claim goes to court, you will be able to use your email record or your conversations with the harasser as evidence to prove that there was a harasser present. Your witnesses can vouch that the conversations took place.
How to Prove Harassment in Court
Sexual harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The employee must show that the sexual harassment happened more than once and sufficient evidence needs to be provided to prove that the sexual harassment took place. This can include any of the following:
- witness statements revealing that sexual harassment took place;
- proof of emails and texts from the perpetrator;
- camera footage etc. taken from surveillance cameras.
You must prove the following:
- you are a member of a protected group;
- you were the subject of unwanted sexual requests or advances;
- the requests or advances were based on sex;
- your agreement to the sexual act was a condition of you being given job benefits, or your refusal to engage in the sexual activity caused a job detriment.
It can be difficult to prove sexual harassment when you get to court as you must prove you were subjected to unwelcome harassment of a sexual nature and that it was so severe that it had a negative impact on your ability to do your job as it created a hostile environment. Also, you must prove your employer knew or should have known that the harassment was occurring but failed to do anything about it. It is a good idea to contact an employer attorney to help you navigate the process and get the compensation you deserve.
Get Help Gathering Evidence
It is never easy to gather evidence about workplace harassment so whatever you have managed to acquire you should keep in a safe place so that it is ready to be used if you are called to go to court. A lawyer may be able to help.
If you are finding all the events following the workplace harassment too much but you want to win a workplace harassment claim, a lawyer may be able to help you through the claim’s process. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation to get in touch with a lawyer that takes cases in your area today!