If you experienced sexual harassment while at work but there was no witness, you may still be able to file a claim. You should gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim, but you can still succeed with your claim and recover your losses even without a witness.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, you should be entitled to recover damages through an employment law claim. Gather your evidence to prove harassment, speak with your employer, and then file claim with the EEOC if needed.
Here are a few tips for proving your sexual harassment claim and having success without any witnesses to support your allegations.
What To Do If You Experienced Sexual Harassment At Work
You will need to take all the appropriate actions if you have been the victim of sexual harassment. Familiarize yourself with the state and federal laws that apply to your situation, so you can follow proper procedures and protect your rights.
You will need to document the incidents because for sexual harassment to have occurred, there was most likely multiple occurrences of inappropriate behavior. You should start documenting everything on the day that you experience anything like discrimination or sexual harassment while you are at work.
You should keep a journal and document everything in it, so you have everything together and are easily accessible. You should provide copies of the evidence when you file your complaint, but always keep your original.
You do not want the original documentation to be lost, misplaced, or destroyed because you will need it throughout the claims process.
When you document events and activities, you should describe everything that happened in as much detail as possible. You will need to include notes from any meetings with your company’s human resources (HR) department or your supervisor regarding the incidents.
You will need to maintain proof of notifying your employer of the problem and how they responded. Keep copies of all correspondence from them and, also, be sure to document anything said to you and how they responded to the allegations.
You will need to keep as much supporting evidence as possible to show what happened and how everything the way it progressed.
Do you Need Proof of Harassment When You Experience or Witness Harassment?
The best way to prove harassment whether you have experienced it or even if you have witnessed is to provide evidence to back up your claim. Even if there are no witnesses available to support your claim of harassment, you can still file a claim for harassment, you just need evidence to back it up.
The best way to prove you have been harassed in the workplace is to gather the proof that shows that you have been subjected to sexual harassment. Apart from writing out a timeline of the sexual harassment the evidence you could provide is:
- proof of communication by the harasser with you such as, through emails, text messages and voicemail messages;
- copies of letters of complaint to your employer highlighting the sexual harassment;
- copies of witnesses’ testimonies;
- the employee handbook showing your employer’s sexual harassment policies;
- photos showing sexual harassment taken from CCTV footage like gestures.
What to Do When You Experience or Witness Harassment
Fortunately, state, and federal laws protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids harassment. Also, most states have their own fair employment practices laws that prohibit sexual harassment many of them are often stricter than the federal law. If you experience or witness harassment in the workplace harassment, you should tell your employer. You also can tell the harasser that his or her behavior is not funny and must stop. Finally, don't laugh at the conduct or give the harasser an audience as that will only encourage further harassment.
If the harasser continues with the sexual harassment you should complain to your employer. If you have any evidence like text messages, emails, or voicemail you can provide this as evidence for your employer with your complaint letter. If nothing is done to stop the harassment you can take the matter to the Equal Employment Opportunities commission (EEOC).
The EEOC sets a statute of limitations of 180 days for filing Title VII claims, including sexual harassment. If your state has a separate sexual harassment law protecting employees, the time limit to file an EEOC claim is 300 days. It will ask for as much evidence as possible proving that the sexual harassment has taken place. You should provide your employee handbook showing your employees policy on dealing with sexual harassment. You will be asked to attend an interview with an EEOC investigator.
If after an investigation and a settlement hasn’t been reached the EEOC may prosecute your employer on your behalf, or it may suggest you file a civil lawsuit for damages under either Title VII or your state fair employment practices statute.
The remedies your employer may be asked to pay if you win your sexual harassment claim are:
- out of pocket expenses;
- compensation for the emotional and physical distress caused by the sexual harassment;
- legal and attorney fees.
How to Document a Workplace Sexual Harassment Claim
When you file a claim for sexual harassment at work, you will need to provide evidence that the incident(s) occurred. Though witness statements do help, there is other evidence you can provide to help support your workplace sexual harassment claim. Evidence that can prove sexual harassment include:
- Details about the incident(s)
- Video or pictures of the incident(s)
- Copies of any harassing emails or messages
- Voicemails or recordings of any sexual harassment
- Copies of your reports to HR/manager/your employer
- Copies of their response to your complaint
- Anything that can establish a pattern of harassment
- Copy of your company’s sexual harassment policy
Gather the evidence and make copies for yourself, and copies to provide when filing a claim.
Filing a Claim With the EEOC For Sexual Harassment
If the matter does not get satisfactorily resolved within your company, you will take the next step and file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC oversees many employment law matters including sexual harassment and discrimination. When you file your claim, you will file an official charge of sexual harassment with the EEOC.
You can do this online or by scheduling an appointment at the nearest EEOC. Either way, you will be interviewed by an EEOC representative and they will review your evidence. They will then contact your employer and give them an opportunity to respond. They will then work to try to resolve the issue and ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the claims process.
You do have a statute of limitations, or a deadline, for pursuing an official charge of sexual harassment with your employer, so you need to act quickly. If you wait too long, you cannot pursue your claim and you will not be able to recover compensation for your damages.
You should understand the process for filing your complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC has 53 field offices. The complaint will most likely be investigated by the field office that is nearest where the sexual harassment incident took place.
So, if you file a complaint at the office nearest you and the work location where the incident occurred was near another field office, then the complaint will most likely be transferred to the office nearest your employer’s job site.
The EEOC will investigate. You will be interviewed and if there are witnesses, they will also be interviewed. Your employer will be talked with regarding the matter, and then the EEOC will work to have the issue resolved. You may be awarded compensation, your employer may be fined or penalized or you may receive a right to sue letter, allowing you to file a civil lawsuit.
Get A Free Case Evaluation Today
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you could benefit greatly by enlisting the help of an employment law attorney who handles sexual harassment cases.
When you speak with an attorney, be sure to discuss their payment expectations because some employment law attorneys work on a contingency basis and are not paid until you win your claim and others require a retainer to be paid in advance for their services.
The likelihood of your claim’s success improves greatly when you have experienced legal representation helping you maneuver the steps.
An attorney is familiar with the state and federal laws that apply and can review your evidence and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form to share the details of your claim with an attorney today.