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How do you prove sexual harassment in your workplace?

People experiencing sexual harassment at work often fear speaking up about the matter. They will often feel worried that they will face retaliation from their employer, even though they know that the law supports their right to ask for company protection when dealing with a hostile work environment or a supervisor trying to demand sexual favors.

If you do decide to speak up, you will need to convince your employer to take action on your behalf. If the company does not intervene to protect you, you may then need to take your case to court. How do you gather evidence to protect yourself from retaliation or to show the courts that you have endured mistreatment on the job?

Start writing down what happens

The first step toward developing a strong case addressing the sexual harassment you experience at work will be to show a pattern of misconduct, unwanted advances or workplace hostility. Every time your supervisor attempts to solicit you or your co-workers make a nasty joke at your expense, you will want to excuse yourself to some place private as soon as possible and write down exactly what happened. A pocket notebook can be particularly useful for such records.

It is important that you do not use company resources to maintain these records. Recording the location, time, date and people present, as well as what happened in detail can give validity to your claim about what happened and will eventually show a pattern of abusive behavior or misconduct.

Sometimes, there may be evidence other than your memory that will help you. You could forward inappropriate emails to yourself or take home copies of a lewd poster that someone hung up in the break room. The more detailed and thorough you are when recording individual incidents and gathering evidence, the easier it will be for you to convince your employer to act on your behalf or to show a history of misconduct that your employer then failed to address.

Evidence will prevent the company from ignoring you

When you take the time to gather documentation about workplace misconduct or the hostile environment you have to cope with on a daily basis, you will be able to better argue your perception of the situation when talking to human resources or management. You will also be in a better situation if you need to take your complaint to court.

Generating records of your sexual harassment experiences at work will help you fight for a more appropriate work environment.