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How to Respond to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

When faced with sexual harassment in the workplace, you should take the following steps:

Object to the Harassment:  Tell the harasser to stop.  Tell them clearly and firmly that their conduct is not welcome and must end immediately.  Do not leave any doubt in their mind that you want them to stop.  Harassment is a form of bullying.  Workplace bullies act brave when they think you are weak, but they often go away if you stand up to them. 

Report the Incident:  Tell your supervisor and the human resources department what happened.  You should use your company’s formal reporting process if they have one.  If not, then report the incident in writing or by email.  Be specific about what was said, who said it, when, and where.  Keep a copy of your report.

Get Some Moral Support:  Sexual harassment can cause severe stress no matter how strong you are.  It is especially stressful if the harasser is a supervisor or a friend of a supervisor.  Do not go through this alone.  Talk to a close friend or family member about what happened and how it is affecting you.  Having a trusted confidant will reduce stress and help you make better decisions.

Keep a Record:  Keep a log of any ongoing sexual harassment.  Write down dates, times, what was said or done, and who was involved.  Keep this log separate from any personal journal or diary.  In New York, you may use your smart phone to secretly record what the harasser says to you.  That can be powerful evidence.  (But you must be present when the recording is done.  You cannot leave your smart phone in a room to record conversations when you are not present.)

Gather Your Work Product:  Make sure you keep copies of your accomplishments at work.  Keep copies of your work product, performance reviews, commendations, awards and anything else that shows you are a good, valued employee.

Do Not Quit:  Quitting your job will make it very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to bring a claim against the harasser and the company.  Before you quit, talk to an experienced employment lawyer.  Your lawyer may be able to intervene and get the employer to stop the harassment.

Consult an Experienced Employment Lawyer:  Getting advice from a lawyer early in the process is the best way to stop the harassment and, if necessary, build a strong case for damages.  A good, legitimate employment lawyer will give you a free consultation.  If you need to bring a lawsuit and have a strong case, your lawyer will take the case on a contingency fee basis.  This means that you will not pay any legal fees unless you win.

Do Not Delay:  You must act promptly for two reasons.  First, acting immediately helps build your credibility.  Second, there are strict time limits for filing a claim under New York City, New York State, and federal laws.  Failing to act promptly may result in the loss of your claims.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer, call John Howley, Esq. directly at (212) 601-2728.

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