If a colleague or your supervisor sexually harassed you, you likely thought that addressing their behavior with them would put an end to it. If this course of action failed, you might have assumed that reporting them to your employer’s human resources department would prove more effective. While many employers take reports of sexual harassment seriously, your employer might not have given your report the time of day. Not only might your harasser have avoided discipline, your employer might have retaliated against you for standing up for yourself.
Performing your job may feel impossible if your harasser and employer continue to make you feel unsafe. Yet, you have ways to put a stop to your harasser’s behavior and hold your employer accountable.
The importance of filing a Charge of Discrimination
If your employer failed to take action against your harasser – or if your employer retaliated against you for reporting your harassment – you will want to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate your charge to determine whether a violation has occurred. If the agency concludes it has, it will work with you to reach a settlement with your employer through conciliation. If this fails, the EEOC, on your behalf, may file a lawsuit against your employer.
Understanding when you can file a lawsuit
After concluding its investigation, the EEOC may determine your employer’s actions did not violate the law. In this case, the agency will notify you of your right to sue your employer.
Keep in mind that you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer without filing a charge with the EEOC first. You must also acknowledge the window in which you can file your lawsuit after the agency gives you permission to. Once the EEOC notifies you of your right to sue your employer, you have 90 days to proceed.
Whether filing a charge with the EEOC or a lawsuit against your employer, you will want to seek the help of an employment law attorney. With their guidance, you can understand the steps you must take to hold your employer accountable for the sexual harassment you experienced at work.