Your workplace is supposed to be a safe environment. If you go to work and have to put up with someone who is sexually harassing you or discriminating against you, then you should speak up and discuss the issue with your employer, supervisor or human resources department.
Sexual harassment is, unfortunately, common in many workplaces. Both men and women can be victims of harassment in its many forms.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment happens to have multiple definitions. In law, sexual harassment includes all types of actions such as unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical harassment with sexual under- or overtones and requests for sexual favors. Something as simple as sending a sexual email to colleagues could be considered to be sexual harassment. So can unwanted touching, like a shoulder rub, or unnecessary comments about the way a man or woman looks.
Should you sue over harassment in the workplace?
Yes, but you first need to file a harassment or discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. This is the national agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws.
It’s also important to give your employer an opportunity to correct the problem. For example, if your supervisor sexually harasses you, go to your employer or human resources department to discuss the problem. Your employer should take immediate action to correct the issue, such as requiring sexual harassment training for the staff and moving the individual to a different position or shift, so that they can’t bother you. Firing someone isn’t necessarily required, but it is another way that your employer could address the problem.
How long do you have to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?
When you have evidence of sexual harassment on the job, it’s important to make a report as soon as possible. You have 180 days to file a charge with the EEOC, but state laws may extend this in some cases.
If you’re not sure where you stand with your case, you may want to talk to your attorney before you move forward. If you get approval to do so from the EEOC, you can usually move forward with a sexual harassment lawsuit.