When a woman has been victimized by sexual harassment in the workplace, it is often hard for her to face the reality of it all, let alone report it to the proper person or department of the company she works for. The trauma of sexual harassment is so debilitating that statistics show that over half of the women who are sexually harassed at work either do not report it at all, or wait a very long time to report it.
Many companies, in their employee handbook, have a procedure that sexual harassment victims are supposed to follow. Often the sexual harassment is supposed to first be reported to a manager, supervisor or to the Human Resources Department of the employer. Under California law, the employer must immediately undertake an investigation and take remedial action to prevent the harassment from reoccurring. In reality, what often happens is that once a woman reports sexual harassment in the workplace, the company does its very best to protect the interests of the company, instead of the interests of the woman who has been victimized.
So what can you do as a victim of sexual harassment at work to protect yourself and your best interests? Many attorneys will tell you to first see a lawyer. However, if you are emotionally distressed as a result of being sexually harassed at work, and most likely you are, one of the best things you can do is to first see your doctor and report it to her.
Your doctor will document what you tell her. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for you, whether it be medication, psycho therapy or a combination of the two. And if necessary, your doctor will take you off of work so you will not have to face the person who sexually harassed you and who might sexually harass you again.
After you have reported the sexual harassment to your doctor, report it to your employer. At that point, you may want to get an attorney involved to protect your best legal interests.
Many women are under the misconception that in order to have a case for sexual harassment against her employer it must first be reported to the company. That is a myth. That is what your employer wants you to think so that they can protect themselves.
Under California law, if you have been sexually harassed at work by someone at a supervisor level or above, your employer has what is called strict liability. That is a legal term for automatic responsibility. If you have be sexually harassed at work by a non-supervisor or non-manager, your employer must first be notified of the sexual harassment and your employer must take all reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again. If it happens again, then your employer is liable for sexual harassment if it occurs after they first know about it. But none of this prevents you from first reporting it to your doctor.
In sexual harassment in the workplace cases your doctor may very well be your best ally in helping you, both emotionally and in terms of your safety. But your doctor must know that you have been sexually harassed in order to be able to help you.
It might strike you odd that an attorney is of the opinion that you not see an attorney first if you have been sexually harassed at work. But your emotional well being and safety on the job are of paramount importance. And you doctor is most likely the professional who can best help you in both regards.