Harassment and discrimination in its various forms occur all the time in the workforce, this despite raised awareness of these issues and the effect that they can have on employees. The ramifications of harassment and discrimination can be severe, too. Far too often, workers report the egregious behavior in question only to be told to keep quiet or brush it under the rug. When wronged employees refuse to be hushed, they are oftentimes met with retaliation that leads to a negative employment action, such as demotion, reassignment, or termination.
This is wholly unacceptable, which is why if you’re being subjected to harassment or discrimination, then you should consider taking the legal action that is oftentimes necessary to protect workers’ interests. But before you file your employment law claim, you may want to think about what you can do to build your case. Here are a few ways that you can go about doing that:
- Record events: Sometimes harassment and discrimination are so rampant that it’s hard to remember the details of each individual event. Instead, they all blur together. This can make it difficult for you to present a persuasive case should you take formal legal action. To avoid that problem, record every instance of harassment or discrimination. You can do so by simply writing down the details after every event. Include when the incident occurred, who was involved, what was said or done, who witnessed it, what your reaction was, and how your employer responded to your reporting of the event.
- Talk to witnesses: There’s a pretty good chance that you’re not the only one being subjected to harassment or discrimination in your workplace. Talk to others who may have been subjected to similar treatment. By doing so, you might be able to paint a picture of a workplace culture that is hostile and dangerous for workers. You might also find people who have witnessed you being subjected to harassment or discrimination. If so, then be sure to take down their contact information and exactly what they heard and saw. These individuals may be powerful to your case later on.
- Keep all communications: When you report harassment or discrimination to your employer, there’s probably going to be a lot of back and forth. Make sure you keep everything, from emails to voicemails and text messages. These records can help you establish that your employer wasn’t taking your complaint seriously and that it refused to protect your rights. In many cases, these communications help show that a negative employment action was based on quieting your complaints and protecting the harasser or discriminator.
- Gather your employment records: In a lot of harassment and discrimination cases, the employer argues that the negative employment action that was taken was based on poor employee performance rather than some harassing or discriminatory purpose. Therefore, you need to be prepared to protect your record as a worker. Gather your prior performance appraisals and speak to other supervisors who praised your work and didn’t harass or discriminate against you.
Be ready to stand up for what is right
Employers should be tasked with keeping their workers safe. However, far too often they focus more on protecting those in positions of power. This leaves innocent workers with extensive emotional and financial harm, sometimes even ruining their careers. But you have the ability to fight to put that kind of behavior to a stop and recover what is rightfully yours. If that sounds appealing to you, then now is the time to discuss your circumstances with an experienced employment law attorney who isn’t afraid to fight for you and a just outcome.