"discovery" is the investigation that parties to a legal dispute conduct to uncover evidence that supports the claims or defenses. In lawsuits, there are rules of civil procedure that outline various forms of discovery. Such procedures include:
- Requests for documents (email, letters, memos, photos, videos, audio recordings, spreadsheets)
- Interrogatories (questions)
- Medical exams (typically of the victim)
- Depositions (interviews of witnesses under oath)
- Site inspections (visits to the places where the sexual harassment occurred)
These procedures do not prevent a party to a lawsuit from engaging in informal discovery methods such as hiring a detective to find out information about the harasser or seeking publicly available records about the employer where the harassment occurred.
It is not uncommon for a defendant in a sexual harassment case to seek information about the victim's private life (sexual and romantic history). There are court procedures (some known as Rape Shield laws) which can protect the victim from such discovery.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin