Keeping Notes: What to Record If You’re Being Harassed

One of the most important things you can do if you are struggling with harassment at work is to keep a log of events.

Why Should You Keep a Written Record of Harassment?

Many claims of harassment come down to your word against your harasser’s version of things, which means the more credible your story the better. Being able to provide details concerning everything that is said and done, as well as information about what your employer did in response to the harassment, can help you build as strong a case as possible.

Obviously, facing harassment can leave you feeling a lot of different emotions: embarrassment, anger, frustration, desperation. Most people’s initial response to harassment committed against them is to feel surprised or flustered. It helps to collect your thoughts and make a record of exactly what occurred so you don’t forget the details later once you’ve processed your emotions.

Additionally, if you are forced to escalate the case to a third party, such as the EEOC or an attorney, a written record of the events makes it easier to sort through the events.

For information on filing a report with the EEOC, visit the EEOC website.

What Should You Include in Your Notes about Harassment?

If you want to make sure you create an accurate and detailed picture of what occurred and how you were treated in the workplace, make sure your notes include:

  • Date and time of the event
  • What was said during the event
  • Whether there were any witnesses to the event
  • Whether you reported the event
  • Whether there was a response by HR or the perpetrator after you reported it

It’s also OK to jot down your general thoughts and feelings about the harassment. You’ll want to keep your log as objective and factual as possible, but it can be helpful to explain how the harassment made you feel, so you’re able to give a complete picture of the problem.

You’ll want your log to be as detailed as possible, so don’t worry about brevity when describing what occurred. Mention what was going on prior to the harassment and what led up to it. Then record your response to the harassment. In this case, it’s better to write too much than too little.

It’s also important to record the details of the event as soon as they occur. Waiting can cause you to misremember small details. From an emotional standpoint, it also helps to write everything down immediately because you’ll get a sense of control over the situation. You’re taking action and moving forward to find a solution instead of just ignoring the event or wishing it hadn’t happened.

Guarding Your Harassment Notes

Make sure you keep your notes organized in a consistent place, away from work, and not on any devices owned by your company. Either use a personal computer or notebook to record the details of what has occurred.

Never leave information at your place of employment, either. Though it might turn out your employer is supportive of your situation, it’s best to err on the side of caution and act to protect yourself and the log of information you’ve created, just in case.

If there is any additional communication about the events, such as emails with your supervisor or HR, or you’re able to record any of the events, keep that information with your written record. Any information you’re able to use to support your claims is valuable and should be treated as such.

If you’ve been harassed in the workplace and you’ve been unable to resolve the situation thus far, we can help. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.

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