What to do if you are a victim of harassment at work

by Employment Law Help

Steps That Women Can Take If They Are a Victim of Discrimination in the Workplace 

The treatment of women in the workplace has come a long way from past decades, but far too many women still experience some form of harassment or discrimination at work. If you’re a woman that is experiencing harassment in your current workplace you should know that you can file a claim against your employer with both state and Federal Authorities. Sexual harassment is a crime and are punishable by law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and guarantees the right to a safe and non-hostile work environment. It says that employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion. 

What You Can Do If You’re a Victim:

If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work the first thing you should do is stay calm and make a plan for documenting the harassment you’re experiencing. Next you should find out if your company has a written policy regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Most companies do, usually the official company statement is located somewhere in the employee handbook or in a manual that HR keeps. Find yours and read it closely. Note any behavior you’ve experienced that violates the company’s written policies.

Documenting the harassment you’re experiencing is very important to your claim. Makes notes of any experience of sexual harassment you’ve had and write down the date and time, who was involved, and what exactly happened. If other people witnessed the event you can ask them to write a short witness statement if you feel comfortable doing that.

Any documentation that you can get will help strengthen your claim. Send your boss a written account of the sexual harassment that you’re experiencing including all of your incident notes. Send a copy to HR also. Keep all communication in writing either in a traditional registered letter or email. Get read receipts if you send emails so that you have proof they were sent. Then contact your state and local authorities to file a claim.

Filing a Claim for Sexual Harassment

Most state labor boards have a department dedicated to investigating harassment and discrimination. You can file a state claim through the state labor board. If you want to file a federal complaint you can file a charge of discrimination though the EEOC. Keep in mind that there is a time limit to file through the EEOC. The limit is 180 days or 300 days, depending on who your employer is. If you don’t file a claim within the prescribed time periods you may forfeit your right to file a claim or get damages.

You can also file a claim at the state level. You can file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). If you filed a claim with the EEOC, you do not need to file a claim with the DFEH. Once a claim is filed, the DFEH will investigate your claim and determine the next course of action. You may receive compensation or you company may be fined and penalized.

It can be difficult to come forward and file a claim after experiencing sexual harassment but remember that you are a victim and it’s the perpetrators who should feel ashamed or uneasy, not you. Standing up for yourself against harassment can help all the women who work for that employer, and the women who will work there in the future.

Resources:

https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964

https://www.employmentlawhelp.org/sexual-harassment/document

https://www.eeoc.gov/filing-charge-discrimination

https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/complaintprocess/?content=fileComplaint - fileComplaintBody

https://www.employmentlawhelp.org/sexual-harassment/damages


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