As long as you have used the correct procedure and have sufficient evidence of the sexual harassment then you have good grounds for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) or equivalent state body.
If nothing can be done by these bodies on your behalf, you will be given official permission to file a lawsuit against your employer. Most states have statute of limitations, or time limits, for filing a claim. The federal statute of limitations is 180 days, but if your state’s statute of limitations for filing as sexual harassment claim is longer, then you will have more time.
All U.S. states have some kind of legislation in place which makes sexual harassment at work prohibited. On top of that, federal anti-discrimination legislation also makes sexual harassment illegal and subject to penalties such as fines.
Despite the protection of the law, sexual harassment is unfortunately still a common experience in many workplaces. Sexual harassment is not confined to women, as it can happen to any gender or gender identity.
When the extent of the harassment is uncomfortable or stressful enough to create a negative working environment then this is sufficient for a complaint to be made to an appropriate state or federal anti-discrimination body.
Suing For Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is quite common in many American workplaces. You will recognize it when persistent verbal, written or physical contact is made of an unwelcome sexual nature. The sooner you do something about this unwelcome behavior the better. Most employers should have a policy in place that allows you, as the victim of sexual harassment at work, to know how to report it.
The worst case scenario is when the harasser is someone in power and has the influence over any report you make. Serial workplace sexual harassment may be by another employee, but just as often it is a supervisor, a manager or someone in a powerful position.
This can make it hard to make a complaint, especially if you have been warned that a complaint could lead to you losing your job. Note that any kind of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is also illegal.
Remember to report any incident of sexual harassment to whoever is in charge of employee relations such as an HR department at your place of employment. Keep a good record of any incidents, such as when and where and how the harassment took place and who was the harasser. When you report the incident within your workplace, make sure it is in writing and you keep copies of all correspondence involved.
Filing With the EEOC
If your report or complaint is ignored or covered up, then the next step will be to take it to the EEOC (if your workplace has 15 or more employees) or the equivalent state body. File a complaint giving evidence of the nature of the harassment and what steps you have taken to get the behavior stopped. Provide any evidence you have available with your complaint.
The EEOC or state agency should appoint someone to investigate the complaint. This will involve contacting your employer and may also involve joint meetings with you and a representative from your employer to try and resolve the complaint.
If there is no satisfactory resolution, then you will be given formal permission to sue the employer for damages, citing a violation of state or federal anti-discrimination laws.
Steps To Take When Filing a Civil Suit for Sexual Harassment
You can file a civil lawsuit for sexual harassment against your employer once you have taken every step beforehand to resolve the issue. Most employees will find the whole procedure extremely stressful, but the dilemma is that if you do nothing at all, the harassment will continue and your state of mind, as well as your safety, may be in danger. However, if you persist in reporting the harassment you risk alienating your employer.
The answer is to be as meticulous as you can in following through each successive step available to you before taking the matter to the civil court. The court will be much more likely to listen to what you have to say if you have shown that you have followed the procedure and have been given permission by anti discrimination bodies to sue your employer for violating state and / or federal law.
Get Help When Suing
You should speak with a lawyer about your experience of sexual harassment as early on as possible. The lawyer should be able to provide legal advice, help you file a complaint with a government anti-discrimination agency and if all else fails, help you to sue your employer for failing to stop sexual harassment to take place at work
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