Atop Mount Kailash in the Himalayas, an ancient goddess meditates. She spends most of her time in the lotus position, meditating in loving devotion to her creation below. She is the embodiment of feminine energy, or shakti, who might stay in that position for a thousand years or more – but when her duty calls, she awakens as a fierce warrior. Her mount is a deadly tiger and together they battle the dark forces that threaten to enslave all of humankind. Her name is Durga and, like her, I too have a fierce side; I am not only a life coach, yogini and meditator – I am also a litigator.
You have probably been told that if you are being sexually harassed, you should immediately report the event to your company’s Human Resources Department. If your circumstances permit, and you are not in a life-threatening situation, it’s best to consult with an experienced employment lawyer about your situation, before reporting the acts of sexual harassment to Human Resources.
Human Resources staff are often well-spoken, and have received extensive training on resolving disputes in the workplace. Though they may behave like advocates for employees, it’s certainly not their job to advocate for employees. The allegiance of Human Resources lies firmly with your employer. Their ultimate goal is to avoid potential litigation and protect the company from any legal trouble. They are not paid to represent you or to protect your interests and rights in the workplace.
In many cases, when an employee goes to Human Resources to report sexual harassment, without having obtained legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer, Human Resources will blame the employee, the victim, for having behavioral or performance problems, and sometimes will cover up the fact that the employee scheduled an appointment to report sexual harassment.
You need an advocate that represents you, and is vested in protecting your interests. This is why you need to consult with an employment lawyer before complaining to your Human Resources Department, if your circumstances permit.
Under no circumstances should you remain silent about the problem. Even if you are worried about retaliation or concerned that people will not believe you, you must take action. Attorneys like myself have a great deal of experience fighting difficult sexual harassment cases – and very often we can help you put an end to it.
Seeing an attorney immediately also means that you are protecting your rights and the rights of others. If your employer knows you are already consulting with an attorney, your employer will be hesitant to threaten you or fire you in response to your coming forward – in other words, retaining an experienced employment lawyer to assist you in reporting the sexual harassment is like putting on a bullet-proof vest. If you come forward in asserting your rights, the employer will also be more likely to respect the rights of other employees who come forward.
Sexual harassment unfortunately remains a serious problem facing employees in virtually all lines of work today. If you are a victim of this behavior, stand up and act. Come and seek help from a legal professional as soon as you can.
Contact us today at (212) 374-1511 to see what we can do for you.
Denise K. Bonnaig, Esq.