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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > Harassed at Work? Make Sure You Report It

Harassed at Work? Make Sure You Report It


If you are the victim of harassment or discrimination at work, the central question in any lawsuit is whether your employer did anything wrong, and if so, what. But what if your employer starts pointing the finger at you?

Failing to report the inappropriate conduct is a common mistake that many employees make, particularly when it comes to employment discrimination or harassment. It’s not only important to report the harassing or discriminating behavior to HR, it is essential to follow up with an email:  This is to confirm that on _______________I reported to you, . . . . . . . . (state all facts to support the claim that you were harassed or discriminated against) otherwise they can easily deny they had any notice but if you save your email or make a copy of your written complaint, they cannot make false claims.  Failing to report the harassment to the proper people at work, can be used against you in your discrimination or harassment lawsuit.

Who Knows What’s Happening?

Ask yourself whether the company knew you were being harassed.

In some cases, the harasser, or the person discriminating against you is a “higher up,” say, a Vice President, or a CEO or similar officer, then those people kind of “are the company,” so there’s no need to report anything to anybody else. Not so.

Regardless of whether the person is your supervisor, your manager, the CEO, you must report and put it in writing, state the facts describing what the harassing behavior was/is and save that writing! Most larger companies have procedures that must be followed to properly report harassment. That is not to make things more difficult for you, it’s to make it easier for you, as a harassed employee. REad your employee handbook to learn who handles these kinds of complaints, so that when you do make a report, the company officially knows.

It also allows the company to act on the complaint and, hopefully, correct it.   If they fail to take any action, that is when you should reach out to an attorney.

Fellow Employees

Remember in many cases, it is fellow employees that are harassing. How would the company even know if, for example, there is sexual banter going on in an office cubicle on the 4th floor of their office? How would the company ever know that a department head threatened your job because you would not date him or her? Certainly the harassing department head is not going to report that.   You must make the report and do so in writing.  It is as easy as emailing HR, state the facts, and cc yourself, print the copy of the email and save it in case HR fails to investigate.

Where to Go

How do you know who to report the harassment to? In some cases, you may have gotten an employee handbook or manual. That manual should spell out the procedures. Many times, posters are put in public workspaces, like break rooms, that have the company’s policies on reporting discrimination. You can always ask someone in your human resources department how to make complaints of harassment.

No Retaliation Allowed

And if you are worried about “making things worse” because you complained—don’t.  It is illegal to retaliate against you for making a complaint about any kind of harassment or discrimination (that’s true even though California is still an at will employment state).

Are you being harassed or discriminated against at work? Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today.





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