When Do You Report Sexual Harassment? It's Complicated.

You haven't quit your job, and you've been recording your harassment by using a personal email on a computer at home. Good. But your list of instances is growing, so the question becomes: when do I go to my HR department with my complaint?

Here's the problem:

To have a case, you can't just present instances of sexual harassment. The harassment has to be pervasive, severe, and/or frequent in order for the court to consider it illegal sexual harassment. Remember, sexual harassment isn't just gross or impolite—the point of prosecuting sexual harassment is to prosecute employment discrimination.

The events you've recorded have to show that your ability to do your job has been affected by the behavior. If you report the sexual harassment too early, your HR department might think your case doesn't hold water—and will side against you.

But If You Wait Too Long...

So you don't want to show your cards too early.

But if you wait until your job performance suffers, then you're leaving yourself open to being fired for perfectly legitimate reasons: you weren't doing your job. Poor employee reviews, even if they're caused by harassment, are still poor reviews—which means the company will defend themselves by saying you were a bad employee (and that's why you were let go).

The key here is to wait until after you can show that your workplace environment is difficult to be in...but before your performance has actually suffered.

If you feel like your HR department might soon write you up for performance reasons, there's one way to protect yourself: report the most recent instance of sexual harassment you've recorded. By reporting the single event, you're engaging in "protected activity," which means the company can't fire you without opening themselves up to a retaliation case.

At the very least, the company will need more than a bad performance review to justify firing you.

Follow these guidelines and you'll be able to protect your sexual harassment case. Better yet, consider getting a professional to handle your case personally—my office handles sexual harassment lawsuits in Los Angeles for hundreds of employees. Contact the law office of Alan Burton Newman, PLC for a free review of your case: (310) 986-2792.