What Laws Relate To Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

There are state and federal laws designed to protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on national origin, religion, race, sex, or color. Originally, the law was created to protect women from sexual harassment, but it does protect men and women. The EEOC oversees that all federal workplace harassment laws are followed as well as investigates claims.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a civil rights and labor law that outlines what is considered discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The law prohibits racial segregation in schools and unequal application of voter registration requirements. Per Title VII, an employer cannot “discriminate with regard to any term, condition, or privilege of employment.”

Harassment is a kind of employment discrimination that violates Title VII. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may want to file a complaint with the EEOC. A complaint with the EEOC can be filed either online or in person.

You would call to schedule an appointment at the EEOC office nearest you. You can also call and speak with an EEOC representative to determine if you have a claim and how to proceed with your claim.

laws against workplace sexual harassmentSexual Harassment Under Title VII

Sexual harassment is sexual discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment covers unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and unwelcome sexual verbal or physical conduct. While the term is sexual harassment, it actually doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature.

Offensive remarks about an individual’s sex – whether male or female – can be considered sexual harassment. If you believe that you are the victim of sexual harassment, you should maintain evidence and documentation then file a complaint with your employer. If the problem isn’t corrected, then you can file a claim against your workplace and ask to be compensated for damages.

Who Is Protected Under Title VII

Title VII protects those working at a company with over fifteen employees. These can be both private or public employers as well as labor organizations. Many states have more laws that protect those working for an employer with fewer than fifteen employees.

Proving Sexual Harassment Under Title VII

A harasser’s conduct will need to be proven to be “unwelcome”. Liability by your employer is determined by what action your company took to handle a complaint as well as who committed the sexual harassment. You will need to prove to your EEOC or your state agency the incident occurred and was unwelcome. You will also need proof that you reported the incident(s) to your employer and proper action was not taken.

Because of this, maintain copies of any conversations you have with your employer, manager and/or HR about the sexual harassment. This can later demonstrate that your harassment was not taken seriously

State Lawsworkplace sexual harassment laws

Most states have their own laws that pertain to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. If that is the case, you can file a complaint with the state labor board. There will be specific protocol established by your state laws for filing a complaint with your state agency, so be sure to familiarize yourself with those laws and get your claim filed in a timely manner.

To find any laws specific in your state, you can visit your state’s government website. Many have departments dedicated to workplace harassment. The name of this agency can vary by state.

Usually, you only have 180 days from the date of the incident to pursue a claim against your employer for sexual harassment or discrimination. You can also benefit from enlisting the help of an employment law attorney who is licensed to practice in your state. An attorney will be familiar with both state and federal laws, so the attorney will know the proper procedure and will gather supporting evidence and documentation for your claim.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you have been the victim of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you will file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC was established on July 2, 1965, and it is a federal government agency that enforces and administers civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination in the workplace.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the laws that prohibit discrimination because of sex, national origin, age, color, race, religion, genetic information, disability, and so forth. If you have notified your employer of the problem and they either failed to respond to the situation or the problem recurred, you may have grounds to pursue a claim against your employer and ask to be compensated for your damages.

The EEOC will review your claim and will try to resolve the matter. If they see it is blatant discrimination or harassment and that the laws were knowingly and willingly violated, they may recommend you file a lawsuit in court.

EEOC Sexual Harassment Guidelines

workplace sexual harassment lawsThe EEOC guidelines define workplace sexual harassment as requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances as well as any physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to the sexual conduct or requests are a term or condition of employment. This must be outright stated or may be implied.
  • Submission or rejection of the sexual conduct is basis for employment
  • Intimidating work environment occurred due to conduct of a sexual nature
  • Conduct of a sexual nature’s purpose or effect is interfering with work performance

The harasser can be one of your co-workers, a supervisor, or someone how works in a different area of the company. It can even be someone who is not an employee of your employer but is a customer or client.

How an Employment Law Attorney Can Help Your Claim

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination in the workplace, you may want to consult with an employment law attorney who is licensed to handle claims in your state. With the help of an attorney, you may be more likely to get your claim in order and gather the supporting evidence and documentation that your claim needs to succeed.

Talk with the lawyer about their approach, what they recommend for your claim, and what supporting evidence or documentation is needed. Some employment law attorneys take cases on a contingency basis while others require payment upfront. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form to get connected with an independent, participating attorney that subscribes to the website.

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