Sexual harassment is of the most common types of harassment an employee is likely to face in the workplace. Unfortunately, many employees avoid filing a sexual harassment claim because of fear of employer retribution or because they simply are not sure what to do.
Victims of sexual harassment need to know the legal procedure for making a sexual harassment claim in order to protect their rights.
Sexual Harassment Law
While there are many state laws prohibiting workplace sexual harassment, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act governs federal sexual harassment law.
Sexual harassment can either take the form of what is called “quid pro quo” harassment, or hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employee is offered special treatment in exchange for some form of a sexual relationship with a superior at work.
Hostile work environment harassment describes a situation where verbal or physical conduct affects work performance or creates an employment atmosphere that is uncomfortable, hostile, offensive, or threatening.
Under federal law, sexual harassment plaintiffs who win their suit may be entitled to back pay, front pay, injunctive relief, as well as damages for future loss and emotional distress.
Additionally, if the harassment is intentional and egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to deter any future unlawful behavior of the defendant.
Filing a Claim
Many employers have a sexual harassment policy and procedure in place outlined in their company employee handbook. Most of the time, employees are advised to report any incidents of sexual harassment to a supervisor or the human resources department.
If an employer does not adequately deal with the harassment after an employee makes a complaint, an employee may take legal action.
To make a claim for sexual harassment under Title VII, an employee must first file a charge with the EEOC within 6 months of the harassment. A private lawsuit can only be filed after receiving a right to sue letter from the EEOC.
The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.