At the trial of a sexual harassment claim, the parties to the lawsuit may present witnesses. The testimony of such witnesses under penalty of perjury may support the claims and defenses of the parties. A witness is a person who has knowledge related to this case. Courts decide whether to believe each witness and how important each witness's testimony is to the case. The court may believe all, part, or none of a witness's testimony.
In deciding whether to believe a witness's testimony, a court may consider, among other factors, the following:
- How well did the witness see, hear, or otherwise sense what he or she described in court?
- How well did the witness remember and describe what happened?
- How did the witness look, act, and speak while testifying?
- Did the witness have any reason to say something that was not true? For example, did the witness show any bias or prejudice or have a personal relationship with any of the parties involved in the case or have a personal stake in how this case is decided?
- What was the witness's attitude toward this case or about giving testimony?
Sometimes a witness may say something that is not consistent with something else he or she said. Sometimes different witnesses will give different versions of what happened. People often forget things or make mistakes in what they remember. Also, two people may see the same event but remember it differently. A court may consider these differences, but does not decide that testimony is untrue just because it differs from other testimony.
However, if a court decides that a witness deliberately testified untruthfully about something important, it may choose at trial not to believe anything that witness said. On the other hand, if the court thinks the witness testified untruthfully about some things but told the truth about others, the court may accept the part it thinks is true and ignore the rest.
A court will not make a decision at trial simply because there were more witnesses on one side than on the other. If the court believes it is true, the testimony of a single witness is enough to prove a fact.
A court cannot be biased against any witness because of his or her disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or socioeconomic status.
If you intend to seek justice from a court for sexual harassment, you should promptly develop a list of witnesses to support your claims. Prepare a chart showing:
- The names of each witness
- The witness’s contact information
- A brief description of what the witness observed or heard
- Whether the witnesses will be helpful or harmful to your claims
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