First, it is important to note that time is of the essence. While there are several steps you should take to ensure your rights if you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment, they should be done quickly, as California law generally imposes a two-year limit on sexual harassment claims.
What Does This Two-Year Limit Mean?
For victims of sexual harassment, the California two-year statute of limitations on harassment claims means that you must file a claim within two years of the time of the harassment incident. If you don’t file within that time frame, you likely will lose your right to do so.
What Should I Do if I Have Experienced Sexual Harassment?
The first thing you should do is report your experience to your company’s human resources department or your direct supervisor. It is important that you report your experience in writing and make sure there is some record of your reporting.
Once you have made your initial report, you should talk with any witnesses who may have seen or overheard any of the sexually explicit things you have experienced in the workplace. Try to get official acknowledgement from witnesses that they actually saw or heard what you experienced. Often a text or email asking a co-worker if he or she saw what happened, with an explanation of what happened and an affirmative reply will be enough to establish that person as a witness.
Hopefully, once you have made a report and gotten witnesses on your side, your company will do something to alleviate the situation, and ideally you should be given some form of financial compensation for the injustices and indignities you have been made to suffer.
It is important to call an attorney early on. At my law firm, I get calls frequently in which the callers aren’t quite sure whether they are experiencing harassment. They want to talk over the facts and get some general sense for what to do.
I am happy to help them. Although I can’t give specific legal advice to someone who isn’t a client, I am happy to give some conceptual advice and help people understand their rights and options.
The most important thing you have going for you is the current culture of intolerance for sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. You do not need to tolerate this type of mistreatment. You have rights, but you have to move quickly.
Learn more about workplace sexual harassment in my law firm’s recent white paper on the topic, and get your claim started as soon as possible. Do not lose your chance to file a sexual harassment claim.