If you are a salaried employee within a company, you may need to put in long hours to complete certain tasks. However, while you are focused solely on the task at hand, a coworker or supervisor may instead be focused on committing sexual harassment against you. This can take many forms, including but not limited to physical sexual assault, lewd comments or jokes, displays of pornography or offensive cartoons, and suggestive emails sent to you on a regular basis. Whether it is one of or a combination of these acts and behaviors, no person should be subjected to this on a daily basis while on the job. Thus, you do have a variety of options when it comes to putting an end to this harassment, including working with a Los Angeles employment attorney should you decide to file a formal complaint or lawsuit. If you are putting in a maximum number of hours at your job yet are being subjected to sexual harassment, here are some steps you should take immediately.
Make Sure the Harassment is Clearly Defined
Before making allegations of sexual harassment against a coworker, boss, or other person, be sure you have a clear definition of what constitutes sexual harassment. As for its legal definition, sexual harassment is considered to be sexual advances or conduct in the workplace that is unwelcome and leads to a hostile work environment. While many people think sexual harassment applies only to females, that is not true. In fact, many cases of sexual harassment are brought by males against female coworkers or supervisors, as well as gay and transgender individuals who are also targeted.
Learn the Laws
If you believe you are being sexually harassed, try to gain a basic understanding of what laws will apply to your situation. No matter where you work in the United States, sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Along with it being against federal law, sexual harassment is also prohibited by law in all states. Therefore, should you feel the need to file a complaint, you can do so not only by consulting with a wage and hour lawyer, but also by contacting your state's fair employment practices agency.
Confronting the Harasser
Unless you believe your safety would be at risk, always begin by directly confronting the harasser about their behavior directed at you. In many cases, being firm about wanting the harassment to stop will be enough to put an end to the situation. To be sure the harasser will not be able to claim you failed to say anything to them, always draft a letter stating your wishes to have the harassment end and give them a copy when you have your conversation with them. Of course, keep a copy of your letter in your records, since this could be crucial evidence should you need to file a formal complaint or lawsuit.
Speaking to Your Supervisor
If you do not get good results meeting one-on-one with the harasser, it is then time to speak to your supervisor or another member of management. In doing so, you will be taking another step toward possibly filing a lawsuit, since most states require you exhaust all possible remedies within your company or organization prior to beginning litigation. When meeting with your supervisor, present them with a copy of the letter you gave to the harasser, as well as any evidence you may have of the various types of sexual harassment directed at you. By meeting with management, they will be required to investigate the matter and complete an incident report, which may prove useful to your Los Angeles employment attorney if a lawsuit becomes inevitable.
Use Your Human Resources Department
Along with speaking to supervisors and managers, also take advantage of your company's Human Resources department. By scheduling a meeting with the Human Resources director, you will be accomplishing a variety of important tasks. Just as with managers, the HR director must investigate the matter and file a report, which could be used by your attorney. Along with this, the HR director will be required by law to discuss with you the various laws and regulations regarding anti-harassment in the workplace. Once this is done, you may have a much better idea as to what may be ahead in regards to resolving the situation.
Document Your Sexual Harassment Claims
If you are making allegations of sexual harassment against another individual, always make sure you increase the chances you will be believed by documenting everything associated with the harassment. From meetings with the harasser and management to obtaining copies of suggestive emails and offensive cartoons or jokes, make sure you have everything possible at your disposal when meeting with an experienced and knowledgeable wage and hour lawyer. In addition, also obtain copies of your performance evaluations from HR, since the harasser and perhaps your employer will attempt to retaliate against you by claiming your work is unsatisfactory.
Filing an EEOC Complaint
If your company managers and HR department have failed to take you seriously and help you resolve the situation, it may be time to take the important step of filing a formal complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Upon discussing this with your attorney and deciding to move forward, you will submit a summary of your allegations to the EEOC website. Afterwards, the agency will contact you to gather additional information, discuss the matter with you, and make recommendations as to whether or not it believes you should proceed. However, even if the EEOC fails to initially believe you should file a formal complaint, you still have the legal right to do so.
Should the opposite happen and the EEOC believes you have been the victim of sexual harassment, it will then open a federal investigation into the matter. When this happens, the agency will contact your employer to inform them of the investigation, and also send investigators to your employer to examine evidence, meet with management and Human Resources, and interview the harasser as well as anyone who claims to have witnessed the discrimination. Once an investigation begins you must be patient, since it may take as much as one year for the EEOC to issue its findings. But in the meantime, you can still be working with your Los Angeles employment attorney to plan strategy for a lawsuit that may follow once the investigation concludes.
Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
If you have filed an EEOC complaint, you will receive a Right to Sue Letter from the agency that details its findings. If the agency concluded sexual harassment did take place, it may offer to pursue litigation itself on your behalf, although this happens very rarely. Should the EEOC determine no harassment took place or that it could not reach a conclusion in either direction, you will still have the legal authority to pursue a lawsuit. If you plan to do so, always consult with your wage and hour lawyer each step of the way, and be truthful as to what exactly took place. In doing so and following your attorney's advice, you will stand a much better chance of winning your case.