Sexual Harassment is a rising issue in today’s workplace. Unfortunately, many employees are subjected to sexual harassment without knowing the rights and remedies that are available to them. As such, it is not uncommon for an employee who is being subjected to sexual harassment to decide that enough is enough and quit their positions.
The purpose of this post is inform employees of what rights they have after they’ve left their jobs. Does quitting prevent an employee from complaining later? Is an employee precluded from complaining about sexual harassment even after leaving a job?
The simple answer is, no. Though quitting may prevent a former employee from receiving unemployment benefits, quitting does not preclude an employee from filing a lawsuit or requesting an investigation through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the EEOC, “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”
The EEOC goes on to state, “Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.”
“Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). “
Complaining After Quitting
One step a former employee can take to address sexual harassment after quitting is to file an administrative charge with the EEOC. The EEOC is the federal agency that is responsible for enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is the law that prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.
Regardless of the employees current employment status, the employee can file a complaint with the EEOC up to a 180 days after the last incident of sexual harassment occurred. The EEOC interprets this deadline every strictly. As such, even if the employee has quit the job in which they were harassed in, they have 180 days after the last incident of harassment to file a complaint.
The EEOC will begin its investigation once an employee files an administrative charge through their offices. It is important to note that the EEOC may contact your former employer or co-workers. Further, EEOC officers may make site visits to the workplace and conduct witness interviews. Generally, the average EEOC investigation take around 10 months. The length of an EEOC investigations depends on the complexity of the investigation, the size of the employer and the parties’ willingness to be cooperative in the investigation.
Once the EEOC has conducted a full investigation, they will send both parties a letter stating the outcome and conclusions of the investigation. If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the former employee was subjected to sexual harassment, they will provide the complainant with a Right to Sue notice. This permits the former employee to pursue a lawsuit against their former employer and recover damages.
It is important to note that an EEOC investigation and a right to sue notice are necessary to filing any employment related sexual harassment lawsuits. Furthermore, missing the 180 deadline can prevent you from filing any law suit and holding your former employer liable.
If an employee feels that they are being subjected to any form of sexual harassment in the workplace then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing sexual harassment are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice. Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.