Whether your boss disgusted you by making a sexual overture or a co-worker harassed you in the break room, you are fuming.
You can’t believe what’s happened to you. It’s 2013. How could any reasonably well-educated person — working in a modern New York City office — resort to such barbarism?
You want answers. How can you prevent the gross behavior from ever happening again? What can you do to punish a persistent harasser — or at least get compensated for your stress, trauma, loss of productivity, and loss of work opportunities?
Here are 3 sound principles to get you on track.
1. Clarify your principles to your boss (or other harassing party), ideally in writing.
We all have different moral sensitivities and senses of humor. We live in a pluralistic society, and our collective diversity makes our society strong. However, when your values diverge from a your coworker’s values, conflict almost inevitably results.
For instance, your boss may think it’s “really funny” to tell sexist or racist jokes. Maybe that’s how he and his friends entertained each other growing up. Maybe he learned that behavior at his last job. When you hear those jokes, however, you feel disgusted and freaked out.
In other words, he may not even realize that he is offending you, so consider clarifying how you feel. Avoid assuming that you and he are on the “same page” regarding your morals and values.
2. Keep a meticulous paper trial.
Beginning ASAP, record the history of the harassment in copious detail.
Don’t do this on a work computer. Type it on your home computer, and/or journal it in a notebook at your house or apartment. That way, you won’t have to worry about a co-worker accidentally finding what you’ve written and embarrassing you or confiscating your computer.
Documentation serves multiple purposes.
• When you document, you will spot patterns in behavior that you can use to your advantage. You’ll gain insight into how to get the person to leave you alone and/or how to avoid him all together, for instance.
• When you create a solid paper trail, you situate yourself better for potential legal action.
• When you record verbatim harassing statements when they happen (or shortly thereafter), you can show those statements to superiors and/or HR officials. These people will be much more motivated to take action to help, if you’ve carefully documented things.
3. Ask for help — and get help as early as you can.
New York sexual harassment law is ferociously complicated. You don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to parse it effectively, nor do you want to spend hours and hours poring over your company’s HR policy’s fine print.
For insight into your case, look to the widely respected team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum, LLP. Our attorneys have vast experience with wage and hour, sexual harassment, and other types of employment law cases.
Find out more here at www.jhllp.com, or call right now for assistance at (212) 688-5640.