Narrate the story. Write down what happened and be as specific as possible. Include the date and time. List who was present. The closer in time to the event, the more reliable this account will be considered later on.
Documents. What supporting documents exist?
Before you start pulling together any documentation:
Hard copies: Make hard copies of documents that support your story, i.e., print important documents (emails, texts, photos, etc.).
Make photocopies of redacted hard copies. This method of documenting is better than emailing documents to your personal account.
Assume that your texts, emails, PMs, posts (even on private/locked accounts), etc. will be discovered in litigation.
(1) Outside the Firm. Why tell someone outside the Firm? (1) For emotional safety and (2) because you want witnesses. Who might you tell?
(2) Inside the Firm. Why tell someone inside the Firm? To give the Firm notice.
Remember: if you are still working, you have an independent obligation to your clients. Do not commit malpractice by missing deadlines. This could lead to termination and a complaint against your license. Ask, in writing, for help, reassignments, etc.
If you want to sue, you need to go through the EEOC process first by filing a Charge.
[There is a different process for federal employees: https://www.eeoc.gov/federal/fed_employees/complaint_overview.cfm]
Deadline to report generally starts from the day the Bad Actor did a Bad Act:
Note: this clock does not stop because you notified HR or because you are following another avenue of relief.
EEOC has a public portal to file your Charge.
The Charge is not a public record.
The Charge will be shared with the Firm for a response.
There are two recent, high profile examples of employees bringing sexual harassment claims through suits raising state law tort claims:
Although it is unknown if tort claims present a viable avenue for #MeToo relief, it may be worth considering these claims if you did not complete the EEOC process.
If your Firm is big enough, perhaps you can move internally. You may need a new job.
If you want to initiate your exit negotiations:
If you want to wait, expect an offer to come later than you would like and that it will be disappointing. Do not feel the need to make an immediate counter-offer. Assume that the Firm will not make an offer before your last day.
If you wait to initiate negotiations after you leave it may feel less messy, but it will likely be less effective in getting a response from the firm. They will likely view the request as sour grapes and you are less likely to get anything monetarily. But you will be free to speak your truth.
This webpage exists because of the difficulty lawyers have had hiring counsel when they find themselves in #MeToo situations. Some of that is due to the fact that they may get business and referrals from this firm, they may fear the resources that the firm has, or they may want to have a good reputation with the firm for other reasons. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t lawyers out there who can help, they are out but they are hard to find.
You should hire counsel, if you can. If you do hire counsel and tell the Firm that you have done so, you will change your employment relationship with the Firm from that point forward.