Sexual harassment protection was written into law back in 1964 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and even though there is protection for employees at the federal, state and local levels it still happens every day at companies all over the country. Sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, threats for sexual favors, bribes for sex, unwanted touching, inappropriate jokes or remarks and sexual assault.
These are but a few examples. They can be direct or indirect and victims don’t have to be directly involved to be impacted.
Laws protect employees from retaliation as well. Retaliation is when threats are made to try sway employees from filing reports or lawsuits, and it is illegal. You cannot be fired or demoted for pursuing a sexual harassment case. When you have been a victim of sexual harassment it is very important to document everything so that you can build your case.
What You Should Know Before You File
Most companies have their own internal sexual harassment policies in addition to the federal, state and local protections available to workers. Make sure you understand the policies and reporting guidelines before you bring your report to human resources.
When gathering your evidence, every piece of information is vital. You need to document the time and place that the harassment took place, the people involved, a description of what transpired, who witnessed it and how it made you feel. If you suspect that your job may be at risk if you file a report about the harassment, make sure that you gather performance evaluations and any other documents that will provide evidence that you are a valued employee.
Keep track of everything that happened following the event, including emails, messages (particularly from the harasser) and anything else that could be tied to the event. If you turned down someone’s advances and you are being passed over for a promotion or raise, document that as well.
When you report to HR, document your entire meeting including who you met with, what was said and the outcome. If you do not believe that your case was reviewed fairly, or if the outcome is not acceptable, then you can move forward with a claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and they will help to determine your next steps.
Time Limits On Filing
When you contact the EEOC you start by filling out an inquiry form and from there you will be contacted by a representative who will walk you through the next steps. You must file your charge within 180 days from when the last incident of harassment took place, so it is very important to move quickly.
Once the EEOC gives you the green light, you can file a Charge of Discrimination which is a written statement of events. It should include your contact information, including your name, address and phone number, as well as a description of the harassment incident and your signature.
From there, the EEOC will open an investigation and they will also let you know whether or not you are able to file a lawsuit against your employer. If you are approved and you decide to file a lawsuit then you should consider hiring an employment lawyer who can help you obtain a favorable result.
How an Employment Lawyer Can Help
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment at your workplace, you may want to consult with an employment attorney at any point. Many employment attorneys will offer a free of low-fee consultation to evaluate your case and offer you advice on how to proceed. Hiring an employment attorney will not guarantee that you will win your case but it will greatly improve your chances for a favorable outcome.
An employment attorney may be able to help you make the most of your lawsuit by making sure that you receive all of the remedies available to you including lost wages, out of pocket costs, legal fees and emotional distress. If you have lost your job as a result of the harassment claim, or as a result of retaliation, then your attorney will include that in your lawsuit.
Having an expert working on your side is very valuable and can help as you’re dealing with an incredibly stressful situation. Many employment attorneys will work on a contingency basis, meaning that they will not require upfront payment unless you win your case. Make sure that you discuss fees when you have your initial consultation. Don’t wait unitl it’s too late, fill out the Free Case Evaluation today!