When you are at work, you have the right to fair and respectful treatment. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Thanks to the Me-Too Movement https://metoomvmt.org/, sexual harassment claims are no longer taboo. As more people spoke up about sexual harassment, it has helped others come forward as well. Sexual harassment occurs when an unwanted sexual advance or obscene remarks occur in the workplace. Victims of sexual harassment have rights. They also have the right to keep their job regardless of the threats made by the offender. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you should know how the process works. There are certain steps that you need to take immediately after the incident, before you file a claim for sexual harassment.
What Is the Definition of Sexual Harassment?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm, sexual harassment can include sexual advances that are unwelcome, request for favors of the sexual nature, and other physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature. If you have experienced any of these situations in your workplace, you can file a lawsuit.
Step 1: Talk to the Offender
The first thing that you should do if you believe that you were a victim of sexual harassment is to talk to the offender. This can be very uncomfortable; however, it is the best way to get the offender to stop this behavior. It is also important from a legal standpoint. When you speak to the offender about their behavior, you are putting them on notice. This can help you to prove vital facts, if forced to file a lawsuit.
Step 2: File a Formal Complaint with the Company
If your conversation with the offender doesn’t help or if it makes matters worse, you would file an internal complaint with your company. If you aren’t sure how to file a sexual harassment claim with your company, you should check with your HR rep or refer to your employee handbook. By filing a formal complaint with the company, you are giving them a chance to investigate the situation and resolve the issue. It also gives you the opportunity to preserve your legal rights should you need to file a lawsuit in the future.
Step 3: File an Administrative Charge
Before you can file a sexual harassment lawsuit, you need to file an administrative charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you file a lawsuit before doing this, there is a good chance of dismissal. When you file with the EEOC, someone notifies your employer. At this point, the agency will do one of a few things. They could dismiss the charge, they could investigate, or they could ask that you and your employer try to settle the case out of court through a mediator. When processing your claim, and the EEOC believes that you have a case, you will receive a “right to sue” letter. You cannot file a lawsuit until you receive this letter.
Step 4: File a Lawsuit
After you have completed all the steps listed above, you can officially file a lawsuit against your employer or the individual who harassed you in the workplace. At this point, it is best to hire a lawyer. Having legal representation is the best way to ensure that you will win your case.
If you feel that someone sexually harassed you at work, you have rights. If the behavior continues after speaking to the offender, you should be sure to follow each of the steps listed above.