Many claims for hostile work environment sexual harassment fail because of the details, rather than the merits of the case. For example, if the employee does not report the situation to HR or to a higher level supervisor or manager, then the company may not be held liable for the hostile work environment. If it is a supervisor or manager who is engaging in the sexual harassment, then the company is automatically legally liable, even if you did not report the situation or make them aware of it. Yet, if it is a co-worker, then you are encouraged to notify your employer in writing if you want to be protected.
Written notification is not a requirement for protection, but it is highly advised because a verbal complaint can be disputed. You may later say that you informed someone of the harassment, but they may say that you didn’t. If you inform them in writing, and keep a copy for your records, then it will be much more difficult for anyone to deny that you did notify them of the inappropriate conduct. With that in mind, you should make every effort to gather and maintain evidence and records of what happened, when you reported it, who you reported it to, and what witnesses might have been there. Missouri law does allow you to record conversations without consent, so you would be wise to record evidence of any ongoing sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct. You can also record yourself notifying HR or a higher level supervisor or manager of the situation, and record their response. This can make a major difference in a sexual harassment claim that involves “he said, she said” arguments.