Attorney Toni Jaramilla featured in LA Times article

Our own Toni Jaramilla was featured in an LA Times article about sexual harassment in the workplace. She commented on what constitutes as harassment at work and the importance of documenting the incidents.

For most people, work is a part of daily life. You go to work and do your job so you can support yourself, but what happens when unwelcome harassment becomes part of your work environment? In some cases sexual harassment is obvious, but in more nuanced instances it can be difficult to tell if you are being harassed.

What constitutes as harassment?

Unwanted sexual advances are easy to spot, but sexual jokes, comments about your body and graphic images on display can also constitute as sexual harassment. In the LA Times article, Jaramilla described harassment as unwanted “visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature”.

What steps should you take?

Document any incidents constituting as harassment. This is important because it gives you a record to reference later on. Jaramilla recommends having a hardcopy of any supporting evidence, such as emails or texts messages. Leaving the emails stored on a work computer means they are accessible to people other than you and could disappear. Having paper copies stored elsewhere prevents evidence from vanishing.

You should report the harassment to your human resources department or your manager after it happens. If you feel you cannot report the harassment to someone at your organization, you can report it to the California Department of Fair Employment.

Next steps

Reporting harassment can be nerve-racking, but it should be done within a reasonable amount of time after the incident occurred. This will help ensure you have a clear memory of the incident and can serve as a record of the incident if the problem escalates to a lawsuit. Once you have filed a complaint, your employer should begin an investigation within a week. If nothing is done, send a written follow up asking about the status of the investigation.

If your employer fails to investigate your claim it may be time to seek legal advice. Having thorough documentation of the incident and any other communications regarding your complaint will be helpful. Harassment is illegal and if you are experiencing it there are legal options available. Your work environment should not make you feel uncomfortable.

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