Sexual Harassment is a rising issue in today’s workplace.. Now more than ever due to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, more and more individuals have been coming forward and pursuing sexual harassment and sexual assault claims against their perpetrators and employers where this conduct is occurring. Unfortunately, many employees who are subjected to sexual harassment still don’t fully understand the rights and remedies offered to them by the law and what steps they can take to address the harassment they are experiencing.
The purpose of this blog is to explain some steps that can be taken when an employee is subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.
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).“
Prior to seeking outside assistance, the employee should speak out about within the procedures of the workplace. Understandably, many employees are hesitant to take this step, but harasser should be clearly told to stop and supervisors within the workplace should be notified of the harassing conduct. Furthermore the employee should try and keep detailed written records of everything that occurs prior to and after they speak up.
If speaking up informally does not resolve the situation, the employee should then seek to file a complaint through the proper administrative channels. The employee should let a supervisor know what is occurring and demand that supervisor put a stop to it. Once the a supervisor has been notified, they have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the sexual harassment stops.
It is a good idea to review your company policies which should formally outline the proper steps that the employee and the supervisor should take in these situations. It is important to note that courts often look to whether an employee went through the proper administrative channels when before a lawsuit or a charge filed.
File A Charge
If your employer fails to remedy through their administrative channels the employee should look to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your states employment right agency. The EEOC is a U.S. Government agency that is responsible for making sure federal anti-harassment laws are being enforced. The EEOC will begin an independent investigation once an employee files an administrative charge through their offices. It is important to note that the EEOC may contact your 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.
If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the employee is being subjected to harassment in the workplace, they will provide the complainant with a Right to Sue notice. This will permit the employee to proceed to court with proper representation. An EEOC investigation is necessary step prior to filing any sort employment harassment, otherwise your case will be immediately thrown out.
File Representation and File a Lawsuit
Once you have been given a Right to Sue Notice from the EEOC, you can proceed with filing a lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction. At this point, it is recommended that you find an attorney who is experienced with labor law to assist you.
If an employee feels that they are being subjected to 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.