Many people in every field of work experience some form of harassment or discrimination on a daily basis, and may have strong grounds to take legal action. If you experience harassment while on the job, it is wise to document it carefully, building a strong collection of evidence to support a legal claim.
The more corroborating evidence you present when you file a harassment claim, the more difficult it is for the violating party to spin the situation, or for your employer to ignore or deny your allegations. Building a strong claim takes time, and you may need to go through several steps before you officially take legal action, so it is crucial that you gather as much evidence as possible along the way.
Documenting the experience
As soon as you experience harassment, it is a good idea to take a moment to yourself and write down what happened, so that you don’t forget important details. If your versions of events contain inconsistencies, the other party is likely to use this against you.
Similarly, it is important to keep any physical evidence of the harassment, such as pictures or physical items, even though this may be emotionally painful. Finally, if anyone else witnessed your harassment experience, you should try to get a written or recorded statement from them. Witness statements can greatly increase the strength of your claim.
Other documents to gather
Beyond documenting your own experience, you should gather several third-party documents if possible. Begin by looking over your employer’s handbook if they maintain one. This should outline their internal policies surrounding harassment, giving you a clear understanding of how the employer claims they handle harassment and discrimination.
You should also request your personnel file, which contains the information that your employer keeps about you. This is helpful in identifying information in your file that may work against you, and may reveal information that your employer is not authorized to keep.
If your experience is severe enough that it requires medical or psychological treatment, you should make sure to include this documentation as well. All of these pieces fit together to help you present a thorough, compelling picture of the harassment that you experienced, the ways in which it affects you, and the steps your employer takes to address the violation.
Don’t wait to begin building a strong claim, starting with writing down your experience in as much detail as you can. A strong legal strategy helps you protect your rights and create a workplace that is safe for you and safe for everyone else.