Every year there are thousands of cases of workplace sexual harassment, but it is illegal under both federal and state law for a harasser to make unwanted advances towards a co-worker or employee.
If you were sexually harassed at work, you can file a lawsuit if other options are first exhausted.
Workplace Sexual Harassment
You can sue for workplace sexual harassment. Some examples of workplace sexual harassment include:
- if a coworker makes unwanted advances towards you
- if you are told if you can get a promotion or raise in exchange for sexual favors
- sharing inappropriate images or videos
- receiving suggestive notes or emails
- and more
Who Can You Sue For Sexual Harassment In the Workplace?
You are not limited by who you can file a claim against for workplace sexual harassment. If you experienced some form of sexual harassment in the work place, you can file a claim. This means you file a complaint for sexual harassment against:
- your boss,
- any other fellow employees.
How To Sue For Sexual Harassment
There are a few steps you will need to take to sue for sexual harassment in the workplace. They are:
- Document any instance of sexual harassment.
- Speak with the harasser to try to stop the harassment.
- File a complaint with your company.
- If your company does not rectify the sexual harassment, file a claim with the EEOC or your state's labor department.
- File a lawsuit if the EEOC or your state provides you a Right to Sue letter.
What to Do Before Filing a Lawsuit for Sexual Harassment at Work
When an employee is sexually harassed at work and nothing is done about it, it creates a hostile work environment, making it difficult for the job to be satisfactorily completed.
Before taking up the matter with your employer you should ask the harasser to stop what he or she is doing as it is affecting your ability to complete day to day work tasks.
If there is no improvement, you should turn to your HR department or your employer and file a complaint letter, including all the details to prove sexual harassment has taken place.
Keep a copy of this letter as you may need it as evidence later on. If you are lucky, your employer may communicate directly with the harasser and ask him or her to stop what they are doing.
If this solves the problem, then you will be able to carry on your work tasks as if nothing had happened. Otherwise, the next step is to submit a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).
Filing a Sexual Harassment Complaint with the EEOC
When you file a complaint with the EEOC, an investigator will be appointed to assess your situation and determine whether you have been a victim of sexual harassment.
You can file the charge of harassment by letter and include the following details:
- your name and contact details;
- your employer’s name and its contact information;
- the number of workers in the workplace;
- a written statement giving details of the sexual harassment including date, time and place;
- why you think federal anti-discrimination laws are applicable to your sexual harassment;
- your signature.
The EEOC will determine if the information provided matches its criteria for sexual harassment. The agent will then send a copy of the charges directly to your employer within 10 days of receiving your complaint and will assign an investigator to the case.
If the EEOC believes you may have a case, it should issue a Cause Determination. This does not mean a claim has been won, but it is useful evidence for a lawsuit.
Your employer may see this as a reason to reach a settlement. Also, if the EEOC issues a Cause Determination, it will try to organize mediation between the employer and employee to reach a settlement. If mediation fails, the EEOC will issue a ‘right to sue’ letter. Sometimes, the EEOC may file a lawsuit on the employee's behalf, but this is a rare occurrence.
How to File Your Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
After receiving the right to sue letter from the EEOC you should contact an employment lawyer who will help you file the lawsuit. You are given 90 days to do so from the day you receive the letter.
Before pursuing the lawsuit, your lawyer may compile a demand letter to try to resolve the sexual harassment without filing a lawsuit and going to court.
Your lawyer will want all the evidence to prove the sexual harassment took place including the following:
- eye-witness statements that accurately describe the sexual discrimination taking place;
- recordings you may have made on your phone of conversations with the harasser;
- text messages and voice mail messages from the harasser, if applicable;
- copies of email messages or written notes showing you are being sexually harassed;
- any surveillance camera footage that shows unwanted physical contact by the harasser;
- any letters of complaints and any responses received from the company, (if any);
- your employment file;
- proof of additional expenses due to the harassment;
- an employee handbook or written sexual harassment policies.
If the demand letter does not get any positive result, then the lawyer will have no other option than to file a lawsuit. This can be arranged through a federal court.
If your sexual harassment claim is won, the amount of financial compensation you will receive will depend on the damage you have suffered due to the sexual harassment.
You could get back pay and front pay if you have lost wages because of the harassment. There is also an amount calculated for pain and suffering. Because sexual harassment is against the law you may get punitive damages awarded if your employer deliberately did nothing about your complaint.
You are welcome to a free case evaluation by using the form below.