Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct (usually on the job) that cultivates an intimidating, hostile, and/or offensive environment. There are both federal laws and state laws that protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits harassment on the federal level and most states have their own laws prohibiting sexual harassment, which can be stricter than the federal laws. Sexual harassment can be extremely stressful to deal with, and often in times of stress it is hard to think straight. Having an attorney on your side who is experienced with sexual harassment legal services can make all the difference.
Steps to Take if You Are Being Sexually Harassed
- Confront the harasser and tell them clearly that you want to offensive behavior to stop. This is a crucial first step and it is advisable to document that interaction in case the issue escalates into you taking formal action against the harasser.
- If confronting the harasser doesn’t stop the harassment, you need to take your complaint to the next level. Most employee handbooks have specific processes laid out for how to go about this, or you can ask your supervisor or human resources department how to proceed.
- Continuing to document each incident and what are you doing to stop the harassment is very important and the more detail, the better. It is advisable to obtain copies of your personnel documents and performance evaluations to prepare for the possibility of your employer retaliating against you for your complaints.
- If bringing the sexual harassment to your employer’s attention does not help, your next step is to go to a federal agency or to your state’s fair employment office.
- Before you file a federal lawsuit, it is necessary that you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first. It is important to be aware of the time limits for filing a sexual harassment claim or lawsuit, so it is best to consult with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer before proceeding on your own.
Unfortunately, employees are often fired or penalized for reporting sexual harassment. An employee who resists sexual advances or objects to sexual humor in the office place can suffer consequences including being demoted, being denied a promotion, and/or economic losses. An employee who has been sexually harassed usually suffers personal injuries (physical, emotional) directly resulting from the stress of the sexual harassment. For these reasons and more, it’s truly in your best interest to obtain help from an experienced legal professional.