It can be difficult for a survivor of sexual harassment to come forward. The process of a sexual harassment complaint can feel incredibly overwhelming. Knowing the signs of when you are being targeted and harassed in the workplace is the first step towards taking action. Once you have established the presence of harassment, you can then report the harassment to HR, file a complaint with the EEOC and even contact an attorney if necessary.
Having the Ability to Recognize Sexual Harassment
It’s not uncommon to experience disbelief when faced with sexual harassment. The challenge for so many is actually having the ability to interpret the subtleties and nuances that can surround sexual harassment in the workplace. Understanding sexual harassment gives you the opportunity to know the signs and determine what your response will be. The following are signs of sexual harassment in the workplace:
- Behavior that is sexist or offensive
- Behavior or conversations taking place are inappropriate. This could include unwanted conversations that are sexual in nature, crude jokes, or offensive behavior.
- Quid pro quo or propositions made to an employee. In most cases, this is when a person in power at the company asks an employee for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, more money, or some other benefit.
By noticing there is a problem, you will be able to promptly take action. It can be stressful to know where to turn when faced with harassment; an attorney will be helpful in clarifying next steps.
Reporting Sexual Harassment to Human Resources
Sometimes, facing sexual harassment head on can put an end to the harassment. If you are up for it, directly confronting the person harassing you may be in your best interest. However, for some this may be difficult. The most appropriate next step will be speaking with your supervisor or human resources person. Prior to filing a complaint, you will want to give your employer the opportunity to take action. It may even be a good idea to review your employee handbook so that you are clear on the company’s sexual harassment policies. If your employer retaliates against you, it may be necessary for you to take action. Reporting the problem is important in ensuring that sexual harassment in the workplace stops.
Filing a Complaint with the EEOC
Prior to taking legal action, you must first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Although this process does not require that you obtain legal representation, it can help alleviate stress. An attorney can make sure that all the necessary evidence is collected and that paperwork is filed within the appropriate timeframes. Attorneys can also be beneficial in helping you outline your complaint in a way that builds a strong case to the EEOC. When you file your complaint with the EEOC you will provide them in writing the following information:
- Basic information such as your name, address, and phone number
- Information of your employer
- Detailed description of the discrimination or harassment you encountered
The EEOC will then conduct an investigation into your complaint to determine if you employer violated anti-discrimination laws. You will want to make sure that you follow the process efficiently and correctly. It can be overwhelming to tackle such a huge undertaking on your own. An employment law attorney can be useful in helping you take on your complaint with the EEOC.
Despite all of the knowledge you may have regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, it may still be challenging to take action. Working with a lawyer, like a discrimination litigation lawyer in Washington DC from Eric Siegel Law, who has experience in managing employment and discriminatory law may be helpful in determining whether legal action is necessary.