For victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, the experience is often overwhelming. Many people who are sexually harassed at work feel powerless and unable to defend themselves, out of fear of losing their jobs.
It’s important to understand that workplace sexual harassment is illegal in the United States, under both state and federal law. This type of violation usually falls under one of two basic categories:
- Hostile Work Environment: This category refers to an environment that is overall sexually offensive toward a person, or a gender. The harassment may stem from one person, or a group of people, such as a work culture where the majority of employees are male, and female employees are treated differently.
- Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: In these cases, another employee—typically a supervisor—asks for sexual favors in exchange for benefits, such as a promotion, pay raise, or better work assignments.
If you’re experiencing sexual harassment, here’s what you can do to remedy the situation.
Filing a sexual harassment claim
In most states, filing a claim of sexual harassment is the first step you can take, due to requirements that you “exhaust all possible options.” To file a claim:
- Consult your company policies regarding sexual harassment. Most employers will allow you to file a complaint through your human resources department.
- If the company fails to solve the issue, you may have to file a claim with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- If the issue remains unresolved following an EEOC investigation, you may have the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit, and provide evidence that supports your claim.
Sexual harassment presents a difficult situation that can become extremely uncomfortable. However, it’s essential to refrain from retaliation—which is easier to prove in court than the initial harassment. You should also avoid quitting your job, if possible, in order to prevent your employer from claiming that you failed to exhaust the resolution possibilities.
Do you know what to do if you face sexual harassment in the workplace? Get the facts here and learn who is available to help you protect your rights.
Filing a sexual harassment lawsuit
There are a few different situations which may bring you to file a lawsuit over workplace sexual harassment. These may include:
- Failure to resolve the issue through internal company channels or a government agency
- Being fired or penalized for filing a sexual harassment claim at work
- Sexual harassment that becomes out of control or potentially life-threatening
If you’re filing a sexual harassment lawsuit, you should ensure that you are as prepared as possible to make your case. Keep in mind that not all offensive behavior is considered sexual harassment, and the issues are often considered on a case-by-case basis.
One important step is to take notes about the offensive behavior, and document the sexual harassment using personal means, rather than company property. You should also keep a list of potential witnesses to the behavior.
Finally, it’s essential to speak with an attorney who is experienced in workplace issues. The Miami trial lawyers at Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen have successfully represented many clients in sexual harassment lawsuits, and helped them restore their lives. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case.