There are limited things that can make an employee feel more powerless than sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can include many things including unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate touching, offcolor remarks and sexual jokes and innuendo. None of these things are appropriate in the workplace and they can impact an employee’s ability to perform the duties of the job when he or she does not feel safe.
There are steps that can be taken to get power back. The first step is to document everything. You need to have details of everything that took place, including the date, time, location and the people involved.
Documentation is key, so make sure you have all of the details written down. Once you have your documentation lined up you have options when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Talk to Human Resources
Talking about incidents of sexual harassment can be stressful for a variety of reasons. You have to outline every detail of the encounter and how it made you feel. While it can be difficult to talk to someone inside your company, you should consider starting your complaint by talking with your company’s Human Resources officer.
Every company should have some kind of sexual harassment policy available. If your company has one, make sure you follow the procedures in place. You can file an internal complaint with your company and then they will conduct a review of your evidence and conduct an investigation.
Should one of your company’s sexual harassment procedures involve someone who was part of the sexual harassment incident, then you should talk to someone above that person. For example, if your company does not have a formal HR department and instead you are instructed to speak with your supervisor, and if your supervisor was involved in the sexual harassment incident, then you should speak with someone above your supervisor.
Most companies will take internal sexual harassment complaints very seriously. However, if your company does not take action against the harassment then this will only serve to make your case even stronger.
Filing an Administrative Charge
There are protections against sexual harassment at all levels of government including at the federal, state and local levels. Before you take action againt your employer directly federal law stipulates that you file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC was established by Congres in 1964 to enforce the rules and regulations against harassment and discrimination in the workplace under Title VII. Since sexual harassment in the workplace violates federal law, the EEOC wants to know when it happens and so the laws require that you file a Charge of Discrimination prior to filing a private lawsuit.
The first step is to submit an online inquiry through the EEOC Public Portal, and after that you will be contacted by an EEOC representative who will talk with you about your case. After that point, you will be able to file a Charge of Discrimination, which is a signed statement that an incident of sexual harassment took place.
It is very important to note that timing is everything with sexual harassment claims. You have to file your Charge of Discrimination within 180-300 days from the last incident of harassment, so moving quickly is very crucial.
After that point, you will be free to file a lawsuit against your employer or you can pursue a remedy through the EEOC. Either way, you will be able to take action against the harassment.
Filing a Lawsuit
Once you have permission from the EEOC to file a lawsuit against your employer you can proceed with your case. It is a good idea to consult with an employment law attorney at this point for expert help in filing a lawsuit.
Though hiring an attorney does not guarantee that you will win your sexual harassment case, it does help increase the chances of a favorable outcome. Not only will you have the help and support of a legal expert, but you will also have peace of mind in an already stressful situation. It also helps to have someone who understands the timeline in filing charges, given that you have a limited amount of time to file your case.
An employment attorney can help to determine what remedies are available to you, including lost wages, out of pocket costs, legal fees and even emotional distress. If retaliation has occurred, your lawsuit can help you to get your job back.
It is important to speak with an employment attorney to determine your next steps. Many employment attorneys offer a free consultation and will work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t pay unless you win your case. Make sure you discuss fees before signing any contracts. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get the details of your claim looked over by a sexual harassment attorney that takes cases in your area today!