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Answers To Questions You May Have As A Witness To Workplace Sexual Harassment

Many incidents of workplace sexual harassment occur in front of others. If you see something you know or suspect was inappropriate or illegal, you might not know what to do next or what your rights are.

On this page, we have provided answers to common questions asked by witnesses to workplace sexual harassment in California. If you still have questions after reading, you can contact Makarem & Associates and speak directly and confidentially to one of our experienced employment law attorneys for free.

What should I do if I witness workplace sexual harassment?

If you see and/or hear sexual harassment at your workplace, it’s important to document the incident. Write down details about what you observed, including dates, times, what happened or was said and anyone involved.

You can report the behavior to your supervisor, human resources, or any designated person within your company’s reporting structure. You may first want to speak with the victim before taking other actions. More on this below.

What if I’m not sure what I witnessed qualifies as sexual harassment?

We provide more in-depth guidance on recognizing sexual harassment on numerous other pages of this site. If you’re still unsure, it’s okay to ask for clarification from human resources or consult the DFEH guidelines for more information.

Am I required to report sexual harassment that I witness?

While you’re not legally required to report sexual harassment you witness, doing so can help create a safer and healthier work environment. Workplaces that condone sexual harassment often experience low morale, decreased productivity and further incidents of harassment. By speaking up, you can support the victim and prevent the harasser from going after others.

Can I remain anonymous if I report sexual harassment?

You can request anonymity when reporting sexual harassment, but it may not always be guaranteed – especially if your testimony is needed for an investigation. However, your employer is required to keep the information as confidential as possible and protect you from adverse actions related to your reporting.

Will I face retaliation for reporting sexual harassment?

It’s illegal for employers in California to retaliate against employees for reporting sexual harassment or participating in an investigation. If you experience retaliation, document the incidents and report them (inside the company, to outside agencies or both). You could have grounds for a separate retaliation claim.

What if the victim doesn’t want to report the harassment?

You can still report the harassment, but be sensitive to the victim’s feelings. It might be helpful to encourage them to seek support from someone they know and trust and to speak with an attorney. You can also let them know you are willing to corroborate what happened and testify on their behalf.

Ultimately, the decision to take action is theirs. If they don’t report the harassment right away, however, you should still hold on to your notes in case they change their mind.

How can I be a good witness if the harassment case goes to trial?

If the case goes to trial, provide clear and honest testimony. Stick to the facts and what you personally witnessed or experienced. Prior to the trial, you might be asked to give a deposition, where you’ll share your account in detail. It’s okay to say you don’t remember something rather than guessing.

Many plaintiff attorneys, including those at our firm, greatly value the contributions of witnesses. We work tirelessly to ensure that witnesses feel prepared for depositions/trials and that they are legally protected.

Get Answers To Your Questions By Contacting Our Office

If you have questions about a potential sexual harassment or retaliation claim in the greater Los Angeles Metro Area, contact Makarem & Associates today to request a free initial consultation. Just call 800-610-9646 or submit an online contact form.