When you have experienced illegal workplace harassment, the need to prove you have been wronged can seem completely unfair. It can feel as if everyone is insisting that nothing happened when you are positive that your rights have been violated, and they have been. Illegal workplace harassment is a serious violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. Hopefully, you are working for one of the employers that vigilantly protects employees from illegal workplace harassment and expects their employees to protect one another in the same manner. If not, and if you become the victim of illegal workplace harassment, it is important to recognize the significance of documentation.
Documentation of illegal harassment is vital in establishing an actionable harassment claim. In fact, companies dedicated to protecting employees from illegal workplace harassment often encourage workers to document instances of prohibited harassment they witness, even if they are not directly involved, so the information can be passed to the human resources department and the issue can be properly handled as soon as possible.
Company Policy: If you have experienced illegal workplace harassment in the workplace and you aren’t sure what you need to document, start by reading your employee handbook or going through the company’s policies. You should find a section devoted to what action should be taken when you witness or experience illegal workplace harassment.
Review the Definition: Review what actually constitutes illegal workplace harassment. You may have materials from training provided by your employer. You can also access applicable employment laws (i.e. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Generally speaking, illegal harassment is unwelcome behavior or actions that are directed at an employee or group of employees based on non-job-related factors that are protected by law, such as religion, gender, race, disability, age, national origin, disability or pregnancy.
Make a List: List any information you have about every incident of illegal harassment you witness. Include names of employees instigating the behavior, names of those who engaged in the behavior, names of those who witnessed the event, and the name of any employees who were targeted by the harassing behavior.
Describe the Harassment: If you cannot record the incident exactly as it occurred, provide a descriptive summary of what was said or done. Avoid attributing exact words to participants unless you can remember exactly what was said. Include the time the event occurred, the location, and the circumstances surrounding the illegal harassment and anything that may have led up to the situation. Also take note of any response made to complaints about illegal harassment. For instance, maybe there was an employee who attempted to stop the harassment or report the harassers.
Keep a Record: Make a copy of your notes and keep the originals. Email copies to human resources, or if your employer doesn’t have a human resources department, provide a copy to the highest-ranking manager you have access to at the company.
If you have experienced illegal workplace harassment in the workplace and you are not sure what to do, call one of the experienced Atlanta employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany so we can help you protect your rights. We do things differently; justice at work is not only our profession, it’s our passion.