What Should I Do if I Witness Workplace Sexual Harassment? By Gregory Thyberg on April 15, 2024

employee at workEmployment laws help provide employees with a safe work environment. Laws prohibit numerous forms of workplace discrimination and harassment. Sexual harassment is one of the most prevalent types of harassment in the workplace. Victims of workplace sexual harassment may hesitate to take action, and witnesses are often unsure of their options.

Although witnesses to workplace sexual harassment may feel helpless, they are not. There are several ways that witnesses can support sexual harassment victims and encourage employers to take proper action. Sexual harassment lawyer Gregory Thyberg, who serves the Sacramento, CA, area, explains what witnesses to workplace sexual harassment can do after seeing a coworker harassed.


Employees may feel unsure about speaking up when they witness sexual harassment, especially when the harasser is in a superior position. No one should compromise their safety to intervene with sexual harassment. However, if a witness to sexual harassment feels comfortable doing so, they should ask the harasser to stop and let them know their behavior is inappropriate. Witnesses to harassment should never laugh or make light of the situation, as this may only further encourage the behavior.

Offer the Victim Support

Victims of workplace sexual harassment frequently feel isolated. They may worry that no one is on their side or that there will be repercussions for speaking out. A witness to sexual harassment can make a significant impact by reaching out to the victim and offering support. Witnesses can further support sexual harassment victims by offering to corroborate a sexual harassment complaint.

Document the Incident

Documenting an incident of workplace sexual harassment is essential, not only for victims of harassment but also for witnesses. Witnesses of sexual harassment should take detailed notes about what they see. Pieces of information to note include the time, the place, individuals involved, other witnesses of the harassment, and what was said and done.

File a Complaint with Human Resources

One of the biggest misconceptions about sexual harassment claims is they can only be filed by the victim of the harassment. Witnesses of workplace sexual harassment have the right to file a complaint. The first place to start is with their employer. Witnesses should report the harassment to a superior and file a complaint with the employer’s Human Resources department. The complaint should include all the documented details of the harassment. Witnesses who choose not to file their own HR complaint can serve as a witness to the victim’s complaint.

File a Formal Complaint

Victims of sexual harassment in Sacramento can report the incident outside of the workplace, as can harassment witnesses. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates complaints of sexual harassment on the federal level, and the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) investigates complaints of sexual harassment on the state level. Witnesses to workplace sexual harassment can file a complaint with either department in person, by mail, or online.

Contact Us

Navigating the best course of action after witnessing or being a victim of workplace sexual harassment can be confusing. Sexual harassment lawyer Gregory Thyberg is happy to help employees understand their options regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact our Sacramento law firm at your earliest convenience to schedule a legal consultation.

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Thyberg Law

Since 1981, Gregory A. Thyberg has been providing legal services to clients throughout Sacramento. With a focus on employment law, he can help you find a solution when facing discrimination, harassment, or other workplace injustices. Mr. Thyberg is affiliated with organizations like the:

  • California Bar Association
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyer’s Association

If you're experiencing unlawful discrimination in the workplace, request a consultation with Mr. Thyberg or call (916) 204-9173.

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