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How to Make a Make a Record of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Sexual Harassment


How to Make a Make a Record of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment in your workplace likely feels overwhelming. Knowing how to process the situation personally can be difficult enough, but knowing how to move forward at work is another hurdle entirely. 


Firstly, know that there are both federal and state laws protecting you and your coworkers from workplace sexual harassment. In general terms, harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected class: that is, you or a coworker are being harassed on the basis of your race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, etc. Offensive conduct can include jokes, slurs, threats, mockery, interference with work performance, or more. More aggressive conduct is also considered harassment, like an employer firing, demoting, or otherwise punishing an employee for reporting discrimination or making a workplace complaint.


Note that you do not have to be the direct or intended victim of sexual harassment – if the workplace environment is affecting your job performance or personal life, you may have a legal claim. Discussing your situation with a lawyer is always a great starting point.


While you may be familiar with your companies’ reporting policies, or know of a person you can go to, you may be wondering how to go about filing a complaint and/or if you need additional evidence to support your claim that harassment has occurred.


Filing a Complaint

Notifying your employer, whether it be through a formal process or via an informal conversation, is critical. Your employer needs to be made aware of the situation and be given an opportunity to fix it.


Ensure that your complaint includes the following information:

  • Who is involved
  • The location of the incident(s)
  • The date and time of the incident(s), as accurately as possible
  • A truthful, full recollection of what has happened → Do not fabricate or fill in details that you do not completely remember, but also be specific about what you have experienced (what was said/done, how many times, etc.)
  • How the incident(s) have affected you, personally or at work → This can include your emotions, physical state, or financial impacts
  • Any evidence or documentation should be attached or referenced → For instance, if you have an object like a harassing note, include in the email that you will be submitting or are able to submit the note to your employer


If you have only experienced a one-off incident that you are unsure rises to the level of harassment (like a singular joke or comment), you may not feel comfortable filing a complaint and the conduct likely is not legally actionable. However, remember that your companies’ internal policies may be different from the legal standard. Even if you are not sure if you have a legal claim, gathering evidence or reporting a situation is an important first step to stopping the harassment and bettering your workplace. While it is up to your judgment, at minimum, it can be a good idea to document incident(s) for yourself informally, via a log or journal, in case the behavior becomes more severe or recurring. 


Helpful Evidence in Documenting Sexual Harassment

The following can be helpful in supporting any complaint that you file at work:

  • Any written documents or communications → this can include journal entries/other logs, texts, emails, or even social media messages
  • Written or verbal testimonies from other witnesses to the harassment or victims of similar harassment
  • Photos or videos of the incident(s) → Recordings of people without their knowledge are legal if you believe that it is necessary to protect your or another’s personal safety, or if you have recorded the person with the intent of proving harassment. However, if you are at all unsure about the legality of your recording, consult an attorney before submitting it as part of your complaint.
  • Medical records, whether they be about your physical health or mental health (particularly if they are able to demonstrate what your health was like before and after the harassment took place)
  • Objects → Anything that can support your claim, whether that be a note, a gift, etc. 
  • Performance reviews (if relevant)


Make sure to keep copies of any complaint you submit, as they can also be used as evidence if you end up filing a lawsuit later on. Even informal conversations with a human resources associate or supervisor should be logged or otherwise documented and used later as evidence. Any verbal complaints should be followed up in writing, with the details listed above and evidence attached. Ensure that you have copies of everything on a personal device, as if an employer wishes to retaliate against you, they may cut off your access to work devices. 


Taking the care to document and report behavior or incidents is not only helpful in establishing your reliability, but also shows that you have made an effort to handle the situation responsibly and reasonably.