Sexual harassment in the workplace is an illegal form of discrimination. Unfortunately, however, many people are the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, and some people are scared to file complaints with their companies when it occurs. To put an end to sexual harassment in your workplace, you will need to file an internal report with your company and follow its policy for reporting harassment in the workplace. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers for complaining about sexual harassment. Here is what you might expect to happen after you file your complaint from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
Responsibilities of employers
The first step to end sexual harassment in the workplace is to file a complaint. Once this happens, your employer will have the responsibility to investigate what happened and to take corrective action to prevent it from occurring again. If your employer does not meet its responsibilities, filing a complaint with the EEOC might be necessary. While the policies of employers might vary, there are some general things you should expect to happen after you file an internal report that you have been the victim of sexual harassment.
Prompt investigation of your report
After you file your internal harassment report, your employer should treat your report seriously and assign someone to conduct a prompt investigation. The person who investigates your report should gather information about the type of harassing conduct that occurred, the perpetrator’s identity, and the names of anyone else who witnessed what happened or was also targeted.
The investigator might ask you to give specific descriptions of the harassing incidents and an account of what happened in chronological order. This makes it important for you to document every incident of harassment when it occurs. If you did not report the harassment for a while, the investigator might ask you to explain your reasons for waiting.
Some inappropriate behavior will not qualify as sexual harassment. However, if the investigator finds that sexual harassment happened, your employer should implement disciplinary measures. Your employer might give the harasser a written or oral warning, demote him or her, reassign him or her, or defer a promotion or raise. If the harassment was serious, the harasser might be fired.
Lack of retaliation
Employers may not retaliate against employees for filing sexual harassment reports. Retaliating against employees who do so is illegal even if the investigator found that the alleged perpetrator did not engage in sexual harassment.
If your employer takes adverse actions against you for filing a report of sexual harassment, your employer may have violated the law. An attorney at Swartz Swidler can review what happened and help you to determine your next steps.
Retaliation occurs when employers punish employees for exercising their legal rights. While most employees in New Jersey work at will, employers are not allowed to terminate employees in retaliation for filing complaints about legal violations.
After you file a report of sexual harassment, watch for signs of hostility or retaliation. Being treated negatively could be a type of retaliation. This might include such things as bullying, insults, deprecating remarks, isolation, assault, or being taken off special assignments. If your employer retaliates against you or allows your coworkers to create a hostile work environment after you reported sexual harassment, you are entitled to file a retaliation claim against your employer.
Filing a complaint with the EEOC
If your employer did not meet its obligations after you filed your internal report or retaliated against you, you can file a sexual harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and investigates complaints filed by employees.
If your employer did not do anything to correct the situation after you filed your internal report, you can file a harassment charge with the EEOC. You will first need to talk to an EEOC counselor at the agency’s local office. The counselor will instruct you about how to file a sexual harassment charge. After you receive a notice to file, you will have 15 days to do so. In your sexual harassment charge, you will need to include your name, address, phone number, a description of what happened, when each incident occurred, why you believe you were the victim of harassment, the damages you have suffered, and your signature.
After the EEOC receives the formal sexual harassment charge, you will receive a confirmation letter. Your case will be reviewed and investigated. The EEOC must finish its investigation no later than 180 days after the final incident of harassment. You can then ask the agency to confirm whether or not harassment occurred or ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. If the EEOC negotiates a settlement with your employer, you have the right to accept or deny it.
Getting help from a sexual harassment attorney
If your employer does not properly respond to your internal sexual harassment report, retaliates against you, or fails to adhere to the terms of a settlement with the EEOC, you should contact an experienced attorney. If the EEOC sends you a notice of your right to file a lawsuit against your employer, an attorney can help to file it with the appropriate court within the statutory deadlines. Through a lawsuit, you could pursue damages from your employer for the losses you have suffered, including lost wages, emotional distress, and others. Contact the attorneys at Swartz Swidler today to learn about the legal remedies that might be available to you by calling (856) 685-7420.