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West Coast Employment Lawyers is open 24/7 and fully operational during the COVID-19 quarantine. We are available to serve all of our personal injury clients, as well as potential new clients. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Top Ranked

Employment Law Firm in California

Top Ranked

Employment Law Firm in California

How Do I Prove I Was Sexually Harassed In The Workplace?


While sexual harassment can be difficult to objectively identify, it always encompasses requests or demands for sexual favors, unwanted sexual advances, and many forms of physical or verbal behaviors that are of a sexual nature. This type of conduct has the potential to adversely affect a person’s employment or unreasonably interfere with his or her work performance. It can also create a hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment, whether it’s verbal or physical, typically boils comes down to a he said she said situation. This is especially true if there were not any witnesses to the alleged harassment. In general, to successfully prove a sexual harassment claim in court, an aggrieved employee must:

  • Follow the proper steps for filing a harassment claim and provide documentation of the harassment he or she suffered, and
  • Be as credible as possible. 

What Evidence Is Necessary In Proving A Sexual Harassment Claim?

Direct Evidence Of Sexual Harassment
Circumstantial Evidence Of Sexual Harassment
How Do I Prove Sexual Harassment Against A Manager?
How Do I Prove Sexual Harassment Against A Coworker?
Filing A Sexual Harassment Claim

What Evidence Is Necessary In Proving A Sexual Harassment Claim?

In order to help strengthen your case, it is crucial to have documented evidence of the harassment you have suffered. Examples include:

  • Any complaints you have filed, along with your employer’s responses.
  • Communication with the harasser (emails, texts, voicemails, messages, videos, memes, etc.).
  • Your employee handbook and your employer’s policies regarding sexual harassment.
  • Witness testimony. 
  • Any proof of harassment related expenses.

Direct Evidence of Sexual Harassment

Direct evidence will always be the ideal and most straightforward way of proving sexual harassment, because as the name implies, it directly proves an element of your harassment claim. 

Let’s say that you have a copy of an email from your manager stating that he will fire you if you do not perform a sexual act in exchange for a promotion. This is of course direct evidence of sexual harassment, and more specifcally, of quid pro quo harassment. 

Furthermore, any text messages or emails with sexually explicit images or jokes sent by your supervisor could also be direct evidence of a hostile work environment. Finally, direct evidence of harassment can also include verbal statements, as well.

Circumstantial Evidence of Sexual Harassment

What if there is no direct evidence? Or what if the harassment is not as obvious as in the previously mentioned examples? In that case, some aspect of the sexual harassment suffered needs to be inferred based on the circumstances which surround the employee and his or her harasser. 

This is known as circumstantial evidence. Proving a harassment claim using circumstantial evidence is more challenging and complicated than with direct evidence, but such cases can still be won. 

Let’s revisit the previously discussed example about the manager who stated that he would fire an employee for not engaging in a sexual act. However, let’s make one slight change to that scenario. Let’s pretend that the manager didn’t actually threaten that employee with termination. Regardless of whether the manager made a threat or not, the employee who refused to partake in that sexual act was terminated within days of her refusal.  

What matters most in this example is how close the firing was with that manager’s proposition — that could count as circumstantial evidence, because there appears to be a link between the manager’s proposition and the consequent decision to fire that employee. 

How Do I Prove Sexual Harassment Against A Manager?

If it was your manager, or another business leader who was the harasser, your employer will typically be liable if that harassment results in an adverse employment action. Adverse employment actions of course include termination, demotion, or pay cuts

In the event that you were subject to an adverse employment action, it is crucial to have evidence that both documents the harassment, as well as its connection with any adverse action taken against you.

However, even if you were not subject to an adverse employment action, your manager’s inappropriate behavior has nevertheless cultivated a hostile work environment. In that case, you may still be entitled to damages. If you are in this situation, it is your responsibility to demonstrate that there has been a pattern of sexually offensive behavior. 

As you consider all this, please be aware that there is a chance your employer will defend itself against your claims by saying that: 

  • You failed to properly report the harassment, or
  • Policies and procedures were in place to stop the harassment and you didn’t follow them.

However, you can defend yourself by showing evidence that you believed your complaint would be ignored or that your supervisor would retaliate against you for complaining.

How Do I Prove Sexual Harassment Claim Against a Co-Worker?

In cases where a coworker is the harasser, your employer may be liable if:

  • Your employer knew — or should have known — about the harassment, and
  • Your employer did not take any measures to address or prevent the harassment.

Finally, you must provide evidence, including documentation, of the behavior you were subject to as well as your employer’s failure to address the issue.

Filing A Sexual Harassment Claim 

There is a specific complaint process that must be followed by harassment victims. If your employer fails to address harassment, you must then file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  or with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (FEHA)  before you have the right to file a lawsuit in court. 

Either FEHA or the EEOC will follow up with your claim by conducting an investigation. It’s possible that they may file a lawsuit on your behalf. However, If the agency does not pursue your claim after conducting an investigation, you will typically receive a Right to Sue letter

With a Right to Sue letter in your hands, you are free to file a federal against your employer. 

What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?

If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The sexual harassment lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling sexual harassment cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a sexual harassment attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.


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