1. Safety First!
If you are assaulted or threatened physically, call the police! Do not confront the harassor.
2. Confront the Harassor.
Tell the harassor that the behavior is offensive, unwelcome to you and that you want it to stop. You may do this verbally or in writing, but if the sexually harassing behavior does not stop, or if there are repercussions, it is very helpful to have a written copy of your rejection of the behavior. Walking away, failing to respond, avoiding the harassor, making disapproving faces, or your belief that the sexual harassor “should know better” is not enough.
3. Document. Document. Document.
Make notes of exactly what was said or done by the harassor, the dates and times, and the names of any witnesses. Save any physical evidence of the harassment. Do not keep your notes and other evidence at work, or on a work-owned electronic device. Print out or back-up any electronic evidence you have at home, to guard against loss or failure of your storage medium. Keep detailed notes and copies of your complaints about the harassor. Keep detailed notes of your employer’s response to your complaints, and of any retaliation for reporting or refusing the behavior.
4. Report to your employer.
Consult your employee handbook and follow the procedure for reporting sexual harassment. Use the words “sexual harassment” and be explicit about the offensive and unwelcome behavior. If the behavior is too offensive to talk about, write it down! If there is no handbook, then report to your supervisor, the human resources department, or the highest level executive you can contact. If the harassor is your supervisor, or a senior executive, you should also consult an attorney at this point.
5. File an EEOC charge.
You have only 180 days to file an EEOC charge for sexual harassment in the State of Alabama, or your right to file a lawsuit, with only a few extremely limited exceptions, expires. Do not let your deadline to file an administrative charge expire! It is best to employ an attorney to assist you with drafting an EEOC charge, unless there is insufficient time before the filing deadline expires.
6. Consult an attorney.
Unless you are completely satisfied with the harassor’s response, or the employer’s response to your complaint, you should consult with an attorney that is experienced with sexual harassment cases. It is best to consult an attorney sooner, rather than later, so you can receive assistance with your complaints and guidance on how to handle any situations that arise. If you suffer retaliation for reporting or refusing sexual harassment, you should consult with an attorney immediately. Many times, attorneys do not charge a fee for an initial consultation and evaluation of a sexual harassment case.