What Is Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is illegal under federal and Florida law and is a form of sex/gender discrimination. Sexual harassment can be obvious or not so obvious, and it can occur inside the office, at work events/functions, and even outside of the workplace according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Sexual harassment is illegal, and victims of workplace sexual harassment can feel helpless, unappreciated, or objectified. FairLaw Firm is familiar with handling sexual harassment claims and we are here to help.
Sexual harassment has to include more than an isolated comment or instance of teasing. Sexual harassment crosses the line and becomes illegal when it is so severe or frequent that it changes the dynamic in the workplace. Harassment not only occurs between members of different sexes but it also can occur between employees of the same sex. Sexual harassers can hold any position in the workplace.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can occur when it is verbal, physical, digital, or non-verbal, but the behavior has to be unwelcome – meaning that the person being harassed did not invite or want the type of attention.
- Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault
- Being pressured for a date or to have sex
- Being touched, held, or grabbed
- Unwanted sexual looks or gestures
- Receipt of emails, text messages, WhatsApp messages, or direct messages
- Unwanted telephone calls
- Unwanted messages containing explicit sexual images or pictures of body parts
- Questions about sexual fantasies
- Sexual teasing
- Inappropriate innuendos
- Obscene sexual gestures or expressions
What to Do
You do not have to wait until someone touches you inappropriately to bring a claim for sexual harassment. If you believe you were or are the victim of sexual harassment at work, then contact FairLaw Firm to obtain a consultation. We can help by guiding you through the process based on our experience in representing others go through this same process.
If you can, make notes to yourself about what happened, when, and the names (and positions) of the people involved. Be as descriptive as you can in your notes. Since these notes are for you and as long as they are considered to have been prepared for your use in a future lawsuit, you should not worry about who will read them (other than your own lawyer). Also include how you felt because of the sexual harassment. If your case ends up going to trial, it could be years before a judge or jury hears your story, and since memories fade over time, you will be happy later on that you have these great notes.
Save All Digital Information
Cases are often won or lost based on digital information. If you received text messages, DMs, pictures, or anything through your phone, make sure that you save the information. Take screenshots of text messages, copy or download the transcripts of conversations, and save emails that contain any evidence – good or bad. The more digital evidence that you have now, the better your case will be later.
Under most circumstances, employees are required to notify their employer when they have been harassed at work. Victims of sexual harassment at work should document the sexual harassment complaint by sending an email to the appropriate Human Resources department if there is an HR department. If there is not, then the victim should send an email or a text message to whomever is either designated to receive these types of complaints or the owner of the business. Employers who are not told about harassment can defend themselves, often successfully, by claiming that they were unaware that anything improper had occurred.
File a Charge of Discrimination
The law requires that a victim of sexual harassment file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Commission. Sexual harassment victims must file a Charge of Discrimination in order to later file a lawsuit.The deadline to file a Charge of Discrimination varies, and can be as soon as 180 days or as long as 300 days from the date of the harassment. Once a Charge of Discrimination is filed, the EEOC (or the corresponding Florida state/local agency) will usually give the victim and the employer the option of either trying to resolve the situation through mediation (a process in which a neutral person tries t to help settle your case) or through conducting an investigation. The EEOC can then either investigate the Charge or, in some circumstances, do nothing. The investigation can include asking for documents, interviewing witnesses, and/or asking the employer to provide a written response to the Charge of Discrimination. If the EEOC does not make a decision within 180 days from when it received a Charge of Discrimination for sexual harassment, then a victim of sexual harassment can ask for the EEOC to give permission to file a lawsuit by requesting a document ending the investigation. Once the EEOC completes its investigation, it will normally indicate that it has completed its investigation but could not reach a conclusion, but it will occasionally find that sexual harassment occurred. After the EEOC either completes its investigation or makes a decision about a Charge of Discrimination, a victim of sexual harassment can have a little as 90 days to file a lawsuit.
Contact FairLaw Firm
The reason why the process for making a claim for sexual harassment sounds complicated is because the process is complicated. Fortunately, the attorneys at FairLaw Firm are familiar with handling employment claims through the administrative (EEOC) process, as well as in the Florida state and federal courts. We understand the federal, state, and local anti-discrimination and sexual harassment laws and ordinances so that we can help guide you through the process and help you obtain the results you deserve. The decisions about if to settle, when, and for how much are your decisions, and while we will give you our recommendations, the ultimate decisions are yours. Contact FairLaw Firm today to share your situation with us so that we can determine how best to help you.