You should always feel safe and respected in the workplace. In an ideal world, everyone is treated equally, but unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. Many employers and workers still harass and discriminate against their employees or coworkers even though it is illegal.
According to the U.S. Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment is any unwelcome action that is based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, old age, disability, genetic information, or pregnancy. When this happens to you, you might not know what to do next, or how you’re going to prove what happened to you.
Thankfully, there are a few ways you can collect evidence to later prove that you were harassed at work.
Proving Workplace Harassment
After filing a report in your workplace, or with the EEOC, your next interest will likely be how you’re going to prove that you experience harassment in the workplace. Here are some of the ways you can gather evidence to keep for yourself so that you have proof of what happened to you.
- Save or Print Communication. One of the most important things you can do to prove workplace harassment is by keeping documentation of any written communication that contains harassment in it. If it’s through email, you should save PDFs of the emails, not just put them in a folder in your email account. That way, you know you will have continued access to the files. If it’s through text or call, take screenshots of the communication or the call record. You can also print all of these screenshots and files out to have physical proof.
- Talk to Witnesses. You can have further proof of being harassed if there are people who were around to witness any unwanted conduct. You can talk to these people and see if they would be willing to provide witness statements for you, or if they would give you their information so that you can contact them later about speaking on what happened.
- Keep Any Reports Filed. If you file a complaint with your employer or human resources, you should ask for a copy so you can keep that for your own records as proof. Depending on what happens there, you could choose to file a complaint through the EEOC, and you should keep a record of that filing as well so that you have proof that you’re making strides to get justice.
- Keep a Record of Your Experience. You’ll want to collect as much firm evidence as possible, but you should also be keeping a journal to record your own experiences as well. By writing down the date, what happened, and what you remember from the incident, this can help improve your credibility and allow you to easily recall what happened and when.
When you have all of the proof that you can gather, the next step will likely be to determine who exactly is liable for what you’ve endured. Let’s take a look at the different entities who could be considered responsible for workplace harassment.
Who Is Liable for Harassment?
Figuring out who is liable for the harassment you endured can be complicated. You might think it’s just the person who harassed you at work, but there can be more people in the wrong. According to the EEOC, the employer is usually the party who is liable for the harassment that you endured because of company policy. This becomes complicated fairly quickly, though.
If the harassment was committed by a supervisor and it had negative effects on a worker’s employment, like if they were fired or received a pay cut, then the employer is liable. If a third party or contractor is on the worksite and harasses a worker, the employer is liable if they knew or if they should have known about the harassment.
If the harassment by a coworker or supervisor creates a hostile work environment, then the employer can also be at fault if they are aware of the treatment and don’t take actions to stop it. However, they might not be if they can prove that they tried to prevent the behavior or if they can prove that the person who was harassed didn’t utilize the company’s policies to report and stop it.
All of this can be complicated, especially if you’re dealing with it on your own. That’s why you should have an employment lawyer on your side.
McMath Woods P.A. Is Here to Support You
When you’ve experienced harassment in the workplace, you might feel alone and unsure of your options. You also might be intimidated to file a claim because you’ll be going up against your employer and fear retaliation. Having a Little Rock employment lawyer on your side is the support you need to ensure that you can feel confident in your claim and know that you’ll get justice.
You shouldn’t have to go through this alone. At McMath Woods P.A., we’re dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and making sure that they feel comfortable every step of the way. We will handle your case with care. Reach out to us today so we can get started working for you.