We Protect Workers

How bad does harassment have to be to make a claim?

Facing harassment in the workplace can be overwhelming. While you want to stand up for yourself, you may also worry about losing your job.

As you consider the incident, you may wonder if it is worth reporting or if you should ignore it. In some cases, people face several harassing incidents before they decide to come forward.

Here’s what you should know about reporting an incident and how to define harassment.

If you felt harassed, you probably were

In some situations, you may not be sure you were harassed. Harassment in the workplace can include acts, such as:

  • Sexual joking
  • Inappropriate nicknames
  • Lewd comments
  • Inappropriate, suggestive gestures

If someone in the workplace said or did something to make you feel uncomfortable, you should talk to a supervisor or human resources representative about what happened.

Building a case

In California, the standard for harassment in the workplace is a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This standard is significantly less than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as is used in criminal cases. The preponderance of the evidence simply means “more likely than not” or “fifty percent plus a feather.”

An investigator in your workplace will look at your claim and determine if there is support to your claims, such as an email or an account from a witness. You should also consider talking to a trained legal professional who can represent and support your case.

Often people feel uncomfortable about coming forward in harassment cases. Keep in mind, if you make a sincere claim about how someone at work treated you, you should have protection from retaliation.