What does it take to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment? It takes courage and strength that one might never fully comprehend unless they found themselves in a similar position. We have been incredibly fortunate and proud to represent many people who have found the strength within themselves, while at their most vulnerable, to take a stand and say “no more.”
Christine Blasey Ford recently exhibited that bravery by coming forward to share her harrowing experience of being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers. Ms. Ford has said that she initially decided not to come forward, fearing social “annihilation” and severe retaliation if she did so. Ms. Ford has had to bolster her credibility by disclosing her therapist’s notes from 2012 and taking a polygraph test, and her character has been scrutinized by pundits, politicians, and the general public. Of course, this scale of public scrutiny is not typical for someone who brings forth a complaint of sexual harassment. But, the fear of having one’s personal life dissected or having something as nonsensical of one’s choice of clothing questioned, as well as the anxiety one feels at the thought of the retaliation that might ensue after bringing their experience to light and asking their employer to do something about it to make it stop, is very real and very typical.
Victims of sexual harassment need and deserve to be believed when they come forward. Victims should know that they don’t have to show that they talked about the harassment with a counselor or take a polygraph test to prove that the harassment happened. If you have been sexually harassed, we believe you and we support you.
It is also important to note that conduct does not have to rise to the level of sexual assault to constitute illegal sexual harassment in an employment setting. Sexual conduct, comments, and gestures, even when they do not involve physical contact, can be sexual harassment. Although you can easily find old, bad caselaw about the kind of conduct that establishes actionable sexual harassment, times are changing. There is no doubt that there has been a significant shift in what people deem acceptable workplace behavior. The behavior that was once considered par for the course or mere “locker room banter” is likely to be considered a great deal more horrifying by reasonable people in today’s society.
I recently attended a breakfast with a panel of professionals discussing best business practices in the #metoo era. One of the audience members asked who employees can go to and who can be their ally if they are being sexually harassed but they worry that reporting the harassment won’t change anything and might lead to repercussions against themselves. I wanted to shout out: Timmer & Judkins is the perfect ally!
As plaintiff’s attorneys, we passionately believe that it is important to believe the women and men who are strong enough to come forward when they are sexually harassed. We are here to help our clients navigate not only the procedure of making a complaint with their employer or filing a lawsuit but also the emotional toll the complaint and legal process can take. We strive to be our clients’ ally when they feel like they have no one in their corner. Our firm has extensive (a combined 49 years) experience litigating sexual harassment claims against all kinds of employers – big and small. We are here for you!
If you need our help with an employment law or civil rights matter, call our office or fill out this form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.