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How to File Harassment Charges at Work

Once harassment in the workplace has been identified, documented, reported, and investigated but the behavior continues, the victim of workplace harassment has three choices: find other employment, tolerate the illegal behavior, or file formal charges against the employee or business.

how-to-file-harassment-charges

Consequences

Leaving the job place may improve the victim’s immediate situation, but it does nothing to cure the problem, itself. Odds are, the abuser will continue the aberrant behavior with another victim.

Tolerating the illegal behavior is even stronger reinforcement of negative, counterproductive, and detrimental patterns. Often the work performance of the victim degrades to the point of termination, which helps no one except the abuser.

Filing formal charges is a drastic, emotionally taxing option, but the employee may feel it’s the only reasonable option available.

Steps to Take

  1. The victim should ensure complete understanding of the results of the investigation including steps taken and conclusions. Obtain a copy of the written results of the investigation. Note the date, time, and personnel involved in the results interview, as well as what was said.
  2. If the victim still believes he or she is being harassed or if the harassment continues, seek legal representation and present all documentation to date.
  3.  The employee might want to contact Human Resources and obtain a copy of his complete personnel file, including past performance reviews and attendance records. Prior pay stubs may have adequate information to show reliable history of timely attendance.
  4. If the attorney accepts the case, the employee should take extra care in interaction with the work party or parties involved. Under no circumstances should the employee allow conferences, interviews, or discussions regarding the matter with the employer. The employee should take extra care to ensure timely attendance and maintain good work performance.
  5. At no time should the employee engage in taunting or threatening behavior or make detrimental comments to the abuser or the business.
  6. If the employee does not seek legal representation, the state’s Department of Labor or Attorney General’s office may be of assistance, but the employee should be prepared to cooperate fully and be forthcoming with all documentation, just as for an attorney.
  7. If the employee has reason to believe his job may be in jeopardy, the employee may consider purchasing a tape recorder if carrying one while on the job is allowed. If used, the employee should declare that the conversation is being recorded and have at least the microphone visible during any applicable conversation. If not allowed, the employee should ensure there is a neutral party present during all contact instances.
  8. The reporting employee should follow all additional advice from the attorney and/or state authority.

Expert Opinion

 

Quote:  “Professionals (scientists, engineers, lawyers, teachers, and so forth) may have been less apt to file formal sexual harassment charges due to the typical existence of strong, well-developed professional networks and concerns over their reputation and the quality of future references.”

 

Source:   Rosemarie Skein Power and Gender: Issues in Sexual Dominance and Harassment

McFarland & Company

 

 

Quote:  “The victim of sexual harassment may also file a lawsuit directly against the harasser or the employer, or both. The suit may be based on breach of contract or on tort law.”

 

Source:   Mandated Benefits 2007 Compliance Guide

Rsm McGladrey Aspen Publishers, Incorporated

 

 

Resources

 

US Department of Labor; http://www.dol.gov/

US Equal Employment Opportunity; Commission; http://www.eeoc.gov/

CWL Publishing Enterprises, Inc.; “Harassment and Discrimination: And Other Workplace Landmines,” ©2008 Entrepreneur Press Legal Guide Services; by Gavin Appleby.

Nolo; “The Essential Guide To Handling Workplace Harassment & Discrimination,” © 2009; by Deborah C. England.