Sexual harassment is unfortunately still prevalent in some workplaces. It is prohibited by both federal and, in many cases, state legislation.
That means that if an employee has been subjected to sexual harassment in a state where there are no laws about it, they may still be able to take their case to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which is a federal body set up to oversee all types of workplace discrimination.
The federal laws on sexual harassment are limited to those workplaces where there are 15 or more employees, so if you work in a smaller workplace and are experiencing sexual harassment, you may have to take your grievance to a state body, such as the state Department of Labor.
What Does the EEOC Do?
The EEOC is the federal body that enforces all forms of discrimination at work, including sex discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, etc.
Sexual harassment comes under the category of sex discrimination and more explicitly it covers violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work and cannot get the person to stop what they are doing, then you may then decide to take the matter to the EEOC who will initiate an investigation into the harassment allegation on your behalf.
This may be your only way you can get some help if you are being harassed by a supervisor, manager or anyone else in some position of power at work.
What to Do When You Report To the EEOC
Before you report the case of sexual harassment to the EEOC, you should gather what evidence you can. This obviously depends on the form the harassment takes.
Sexual harassment could be verbal, e.g. sexual comments, taunts, etc., online communication such as emails, or text messages, social media innuendo and comments or physical.
Physical harassment could include unwanted touching, groping, stalking, invading your personal space or even sexual assault or rape.
You should document every instance of sexual harassment including who was involved, what happened, where and when it happened.
You should save text messages, social media comments and emails that involve pestering you in a sexual context. If you have experienced constant verbal comments or taunts, try recording the comments next time they occur with a voice recorder on your cell phone.
The more evidence you can gather, the better your chances of getting the EEOC to take up your case.
You should also confront the person who has been harassing you and ask them to stop. Let your supervisor know about the behavior if the co-worker doesn’t stop.
If the person doing the harassing is your supervisor or boss, this may not be possible. See an employment law lawyer about your sexual harassment with what evidence you have gathered.
The lawyer will be able to provide advice about your next step and help you report your complaint to the EEOC. You may have grounds to take your employer to court if the employer has violated the federal or state sexual harassment laws.
Generally, the EEOC will first investigate the allegation and attempt to enforce the existing law where it applies before advising you to initiate legal action.
How a Lawyer Can Help When You Report to EEOC
An employment law lawyer can help advise you about your allegations of sexual harassment explain your rights, help you report the case of harassment to the EEOC and also help you take legal action against your employer if it can be proved that they have violated federal or state sexual harassment legislation.