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Understand the elements you have to prove in a sexual harassment case

To make a claim against your employer or others for sexual harassment, you first should take steps to make sure that your case is actionable. There are some requirements that your case should meet to be sure that it will stand up in court.

To start with, you need to show that the harassment was based on your sex. For example, the harassment needs to have been because of your gender and must have been unwelcome. If not for being female (or male), would the actions have occurred? If gender plays a role in harassment, then sexual harassment is the right category.

The second element of a case is that the behavior was pervasive or so severe that it interfered with the employee’s life. The behavior should have influenced and changed the victim’s working conditions. For example, if an employee couldn’t leave her office without getting catcalled, then it may have influenced her workday enough to constitute a hostile work environment.

The third element is to show that the behavior wasn’t welcomed. Showing that the behavior wasn’t welcome should be a goal of anyone looking to make a case. Talk to the person and tell them to stop. Talk to the human resources department. Make it clear to coworkers that the behavior is unacceptable. Send emails or create paper trails. These actions will help you make your case.

What should you expect if you decide to file a lawsuit?

If you file a lawsuit, you should expect to need to back up any claims you make. Your attorney should discuss with you the kinds of evidence you’ll need and which types of evidence could help or hurt your case.

It’s a good idea to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if you work for someone who has more than 15 employees and to have a history of reporting bad behavior to the human resources department in your workplace, if there is one.

Sexual harassment doesn’t have a place in any workplace. You deserve an opportunity to fight against this unfair treatment and to hold your employer responsible if they don’t prevent and stop it when it occurs.