Under California law, there is an affirmative defense to limit damages in harassment actions called the avoidable consequences defense, which an employer may raise when a sexual harassment victim delays reporting the harassment to the employer. California courts have recognized that a defending employer has the ability to plead an affirmative defense in sexual harassment and discrimination cases under the Avoidable Consequences Doctrine. Under this doctrine, if a victim of sexual harassment delays or fails to complain to the employer or fails to make timely use of the employer’s sexual harassment policy, the defendant employer can bring the affirmative defense that they are not liable for damages that could have been avoided by the victim, if the victim had made a timely report of the harassment. For this reason it is especially important for a victim of sexual harassment to make a timely complaint regarding the harassment to management or the human resources department, and to follow any procedures set in place by the employer to prevent sexual harassment.
A victim of sexual harassment should let a supervisor and/or the human resources department know what is happening. The victim can tell the human resources department what steps have already been taken to stop the harassment, and what they would like to see happen next.