Workplace discrimination happens every day, often to workers in service-sector jobs where employees do not feel that they have much power to fight back. If you experience discrimination in your job, you may have more fighting power than you realize. You must take some important steps to exercise that power. No company wants to deal with a discrimination claim, and many employers may look for ways to get around them, or to claim that your allegations are false. This is one of the many reasons that documentation is so important.
Any time that you experience harassment, you should document it immediately. Writing down as many details of the harassment as possible helps ensure that you do not forget something later, and makes your claim stronger. If the harassment includes physical objects or anything that can be captured in pictures, it is wise to gather this evidence as well and keep it. With strong evidence, it is much easier to build a sturdy legal strategy and protect your rights.
Documentation to gather
As you build your claim, you need to create a compelling case that puts your harassment in its proper context. This includes more than your own written documentation. First, it is a good idea to look over your employer's company policies that relate to discrimination. If the harassing party violated the employer policy, it is important to have a clear understanding of exactly what that policy states. If, on the other hand, the employer does not have anti-harassment policies, this can make your claim even stronger.
It is also good to know what your employer keeps in your personnel file. In most cases, your employer must give you your personnel file if you request it, but in some instances, an attorney may have to help obtain it.
If your harassment experience leads to your seeking medical care or mental health care, it is also good to gather these records. The more documentation that you provide, the more legitimate your experience appears when a court considers your claim.
Finally, if any other people witnessed your harassment, you may want to get their statements about what they observed. Corroborating witnesses make it more difficult for another party to claim that you are misconstruing the experience or invented it entirely.
Do not wait to seek justice
Filing a harassment claim is a big step, and you may worry that you don't have enough to move forward. This is understandable, but you must not wait too long to take action. Even serious and obvious harassment is subject to the statute of limitations. If you wait too long, the party that violated your rights may not suffer any consequences.
Make it a priority to document your experience and build a strong legal strategy for seeking justice, for yourself and for the safety and well-being of the workplace as a whole.