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Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Ben Dominguez with Ben Dominguez Law Firm.
Sexual harassment is upsetting and disconcerting when it occurs. It can be difficult to know what officially counts as sexual harassment as well as when you should file a sexual harassment lawsuit. There are a variety of behaviors, some of which might surprise you, which count as sexual harassment. It should be noted that sexual harassment can occur to persons of any gender or sexual orientation, and can include a combination of sexual harassment and additional discrimination, often race or ethnicity.
If you are being harassed at work, it’s a good idea to keep a written record of the events as they occur, as well as any other evidence that could be pertinent to proving the harassment occurred when and how you say it did. You should report the harassment to your company’s Human Resources department or supervisor if your company doesn’t have one, and they are not allowed to retaliate against you for filing the complaint.
Title VII is a federal law that prohibits employers from allowing sexual harassment to occur in their workplace and requires them to address it and take corrective action if it does occur. Additionally, it is illegal for your job to retaliate against you for reporting the harassment. Examples of retaliation include firing, demoting, having hours cut, pay cut, being asked to take a leave of absence, and any other undesirable change to your job made in response to your report.
It’s important to report instances of sexual harassment to the HR department at your work, or to your supervisor if there is no HR department. Under Title VII, the employer will be required to take corrective action. If you reported sexual harassment to your supervisor or HR department and they failed to correct the situation, you may be able to take legal action.
If your employer has failed to take appropriate action to stop and correct the sexual harassment occurring in your workplace, you can file charges with your state’s fair employment practices agency or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Again, your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for filing this charge.
If you are eligible to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer, you will receive a “right-to-sue” notice from the agency you filed the charges with. Lawyers representing these types of cases will need to see evidence of a pattern of discrimination, rather than a single instance. This will help them prove the ongoing pattern of inappropriate behavior, increasing your chances for compensation. However, it is important to note that you must file these charges and the lawsuit itself within the deadline required by your state for sexual harassment cases; this is referred to as the “statute of limitations” and after it passes you will not be able to take legal action against the employer for that instance of harassment.
If you have further questions regarding sexual harassment lawsuits or would like to learn more about your rights in the workplace, seek legal counsel.
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