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How to substantiate a workplace harassment claim

You're being harassed nearly every day at work. It's making your life unbearable and your job virtually impossible to do well. You can't go to your boss, because he's one of the people participating in the harassment. You go to your human resources representative, but she just goes to your boss, who gets angry and steps up the harassment.

Whether you're being harassed because of a characteristic like your gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability or birthplace or people have just decided that you're an easy target, you don't have to put up with it. Making a solid discrimination case against an employer requires a bit of work on your part, though.

If you seek the help of an attorney who deals with California employment law issues, it's helpful if you can come prepared with some documentation. This will be necessary if you take your case to court.

It's helpful if you've kept some type of log or notes listing the dates of the harassment, where it occurred, who engaged in the harassment, if there were any witnesses and exactly what the harassment involved. If someone left you offensive or threatening notes or sent messages via email or other electronic communication, collect those. Keep any offensive images or other items that might have been left at your work area and take photos of any vandalism aimed at you.

You'll need to provide your attorney with a copy of your employee handbook or other documents that detail the company's policies on discrimination and harassment. If these policies aren't available in a handbook but are posted in a common area like a lunchroom, take a photo or make a copy of the posters.

If you've sought medical treatment for issues related to your harassment at work from a physician and/or mental health professional, those records can be helpful. They can also help your attorney determine how much compensation you can seek to, among other things, cover the costs of this treatment. If you missed work and lost wages because of any ailments caused by your treatment in the workplace, that can be factored in as well.

Your attorney can provide you with more detailed information about what kind of evidence is needed to substantiate a workplace harassment case. However, this should give you an idea of what will be required to increase your chances of success.

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