Sexual harassment at work is prohibited by both state and federal anti-discrimination and employment laws. You are well within your rights to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), or a state equivalent concerning the harassment you have experienced, but a resolution may take several months, depending on how your employer responds to an initial report, how long you take to report it or file a complaint, and whether you find you need to take the case to court.
If you report the harassment early in to HR, a supervisor, manager or your employer directly, you should expect to get a swift response.
However if your report is not acted on and you file your complaint with the EEOC, it may take between 3 to 8 months for a resolution, if this can be arranged.
If the EEOC cannot resolve the complaint and gives you permission to sue, the case could take much longer to be resolved through the court. Using an employment lawyer may speedup resolution of a sexual harassment case to some extent.
How to Get Your Case Started
Sexual harassment is prohibited by state and federal laws and there are penalties applicable if an employer refuses to resolve sexual harassment in their workplace, or they are responsible for the harassment themselves or if they try and retaliate against a report of harassment.
The first step if you have experienced any kind of sexual harassment at work is to read through the relevant section in your employee’s workplace manual if there is one.
There should be a section that establishes what is regarded as sexual harassment and provides advice on what to do and the correct procedure if sexual harassment is experienced.
Keep a record of any incident of harassment. This should include the time, date, location, form in which the harassment was experienced (e.g. verbal, physical, communication by phone, email, written notes or letters) and who was doing the harassing.
Write to your supervisor, HR, manager or whoever is in charge of personnel to report the incident. Keep a record of the report you have made and any response from whoever you sent it to.
Contact a lawyer and file a complaint to the EEOC (if you work in a workplace with 15 or more employees) or a state agency in charge of employment such as a state department of labor.
The EEOC should appoint someone to investigate the complaint. This may take some time, depending on how busy they are and how quickly your employer responds.
The more information you are able to submit, the faster the EEOC should be able to deal with the complaint.
If the EEOC cannot resolve the complaint to your satisfaction, they will give you written “permission to sue.” This then allows you and your lawyer, assuming you have one, to take the case to court against your employer.
It is important that you have sufficient evidence that sexual harassment took place and that it was not resolved by your employer satisfactorily.
If it can be proven that your employer violated state or federal law, then you may be awarded damages including lost wages, lawyer’s fees and court fees.
You should be aware that if it gets to the stage of filing a lawsuit, the time taken to process the case of sexual harassment could be much longer than the average of 3 to 8 months via the EEOC.
The extra time will be on top of however long it takes for the EEOC to make decision that no resolution has been made. Time will then be needed to prepare a case, file the lawsuit with a civil court and wait for a court appearance.
Time Limits on Filing
There is a time limit on filing such a complaint. For the EEOC this is 180 days from the date of any incident of sexual harassment. For state time limits, this depends on the state, but would normally be 6 months to a year. There may also be a time limit on filing a case in court if you are given permission to sue your employer.
Get Help Today
An employment lawyer can help you prepare a complaint to take to the EEOC or state employment agency, provide legal advice about your rights and help file a lawsuit against your employer if all else fails.
You are welcome to use the free evaluation form below to help you find a suitable lawyer today.