How to File a Sexual Harassment Claim
If you find yourself involved in a sexual harassment case, you may wonder what to expect from the complaint and claims processes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and several federal laws and regulations control how the law handles sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. There are certain steps and actions you must take to protect your rights and fight for a safe and fair workplace in California. The attorneys at Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, can help you at all stages of your sexual harassment case. While every claim is different, and every person’s reaction to sexual harassment is not the same, there are general things one can expect during this process.
File a Complaint Within Your Workplace
Before you go to the EEOC or the civil courts, try to resolve the issue with the available resources at your workplace. Every workplace should have systems in place to handle sexual harassment claims and allegations. First, visit Human Resources. File an official complaint, describing the situation and why you feel harassed or uncomfortable. Document when you filed your complaint and with whom you spoke.
Notifying your HR department and/or the person responsible can help should your case come to a lawsuit in the future. You’re officially making an internal complaint, which places the responsibility with your employer. It’s your workplace’s duty to now resolve the issue or at least investigate your claim. By filing an internal complaint, you make your employer liable for fixing the problem. Failure to do so at this point can give you a stronger case against your employer for negligence and punitive damages.
File a Claim With the EEOC
Your next available remedy is to file an administrative charge with the federal EEOC or a California state agency. You can do this on your own or consult with an attorney before filing this charge. The EEOC has a very specific procedure for filing a sexual harassment or discrimination claim. There are time limits to which you must adhere. You have 300 calendar days from the date of the incident to file your claim with your local EEOC agency, as the state of California has its own specific EEOC laws. In states without such laws, you only have 180 days to file. As soon as you decide this action is the one you want to take, file your complaint.
Before you file with the EEOC, gather your documents and information. This might include emails between you and the perpetrator, your official internal complaint, documentation of the sexual harassment incident, and other bits of potential evidence. Organize your evidence in a file that documents all people involved in your claim. An EEOC staff member will interview you upon your initial filing of the claim. An investigator may evaluate whether the alleged perpetrator’s actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
File a Lawsuit
If the EEOC doesn’t believe your employer has violated any laws, you’ll receive a Notice of Right to Sue. You’ll also receive this notice if the EEOC decides not to pursue your charge within 180 days. At this point, you’re free to file a lawsuit against the individual or company. If the EEOC does find evidence of unlawful acts or retaliation, it may take your case to mediation or another action to resolve the issue.
Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, highly recommends retaining an attorney for assistance with filing a lawsuit. There are many important decisions you must make. Working with experienced and caring attorneys can maximize your chances of a positive outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call (510) 433-1000 or contact us online.