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What if there's no physical evidence of sexual harassment?

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Some sexual harassers know what they're doing is wrong, and, for this reason, they're careful to cover up their tracks.

They might harass employees in private, where there aren't any witnesses. They might touch or grope employees inappropriately, and when an employee complains, they won't admit to anything.

These covert sexual harassers won't send incriminating emails or text messages either, so how do employers catch them in their tracks?

Just because there isn't any physical evidence doesn't mean that employers should discount complaints of sexual harassment from an employee. Employers need to investigate the matter to see if there is anything to it.

Investigating sexual harassment when there's no physical evidence

If you're being sexually harassed at work and there's no physical evidence of the abuse, you should still report it to your employer. In response, your employer should carry out an in-depth sexual harassment investigation into the matter by:

Interviewing you thoroughly about the sexual harassment: This interview should be more about gathering information and it should never feel like an interrogation. During the interview, be sure to disclose information you remember from the incident, including smells, sounds, tattoos and physical descriptions.

Encouraging you to reveal everything about the incident(s): If it involved sexual conduct, do not leave any details out as the details could assist in drawing a strong connection to other incidents.

Conducting interviews with other employees: The investigator should attempt to draw conclusions from the way other employees perceived changes in the behavior of the victims. Perhaps the victim was suddenly withdrawn when normally he or she was social.

Searching for serial patterns of behavior: If one employee was a victim, other employees may be victims as well. These victims may have been too afraid to come out in the open, but in the context of an investigation, they might reveal that something similar happened to them.

Identifying any outcry witnesses: An outcry witness is a person who first discovered that the sexual harassment or abuse occurred and was the one who made it known to others. The outcry witness' testimony may play a pivotal role in proving what happened.

A thorough investigation can reveal the truth

In many cases of covert sexual harassment, a thorough investigation can reveal the truth about what happened. If your sexual harasser has been careful to cover his or her tracks, it doesn't mean you can't pursue justice. Know your rights, report the abuse and initiate a lawsuit if its necessary to protect yourself.

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