Category: Employment Law Posted on Feb 26, 2019

What to Do if You Are Being Sexually Harassed at Work

What to Do if You Are Being Sexually Harassed at WorkSexual harassment is among a number of behaviors that you are not required to tolerate while you’re on the job.

If you’ve been sexually harassed at work, you should contact the expert employment law attorneys at Stanger Law today.

There is a process for handling the various behaviors that constitute sexual harassment, but much may depend on the situation.

Here is what to do if you are being sexually harassed at work.

Basic Principles

Companies are responsible for the conduct of their employees. While corporate personhood may work to benefit them in other circumstances, this is one area where it can be a major drawback.

Companies are also responsible for creating a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. When they fail in that duty, they are liable for their employee’s conduct.

Why is this the case? It’s because a company is ultimately responsible for punishing or firing an employee or supervisor who steps out of line.

Sexual Harassment and a Repeated Pattern of Transgressions

There are generally two situations that tend to play out in workplaces.

The first is where one employee or supervisor doesn’t know how to handle rejection. The other situation is where a culture in which such behavior is tolerated exists.

In either case, if you’re on the receiving end of unwelcome sexual advancements or other gender-related harassment—and you feel comfortable doing so—you should tell the individual or individuals who are doing the harassing that their conduct is inappropriate for the workplace and if it continues it will be reported human resources.

Your company should have a procedure for reporting harassment such as this in the workplace. If the harassment continues, you should follow it. You don’t necessarily have to resolve the situation with the individual first. If you elect not to, this will be your first step. In the event that your company has no standard procedure, you should report the conduct to a supervisor.

Filing a Formal Complaint

Your next step in the process is to file a formal complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) or the EEOC.

If you choose to pursue the matter under state law, then your complaint must be filed with CHRO within 180 days of the alleged incident. If you miss that 180-day window, you may still file your complaint with the EEOC. But the EEOC has specific exceptions to discrimination and harassment complaints which may vary from complaints filed under state laws.

Time Limits For Filing A Charge

The anti-discrimination laws give you a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination. In general, you need to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place.

The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. The rules are slightly different for age discrimination charges. For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.

Time limits for filing a charge with EEOC generally will not be extended while you attempt to resolve a dispute through another forum such as an internal grievance procedure, a union grievance, arbitration or mediation before filing a charge with EEOC. Other forums for resolution may be pursued at the same time as the processing of the EEOC charge.

Holidays and weekends are included in the calculation, although if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, you will have until the next business day. Figuring out how much time you have to file a charge is complicated. If you aren’t sure how much time is left, you should contact us as soon as possible so we can assess whether you still have time.

If More Than One Discriminatory Event Took Place

Also, if more than one discriminatory event took place, the deadline usually applies to each event. For example, let’s say you were demoted and then fired a year later. You believe the employer based its decision to demote and fire you on your race, and you file a charge the day after your discharge. In this case, only your claim of discriminatory discharge is timely. In other words, you must have filed a charge challenging the demotion within 180/300 days from the day you were demoted. If you didn’t, we would only investigate your discharge.

There is one exception to this general rule and that is if you are alleging ongoing harassment.

Ongoing Harassment

In harassment cases, you must file your charge within 180 or 300 days of the last incident of harassment. Despite this, we will look at all incidents of harassment when investigating your charge. Even if the earlier incidents happened more than 180/300 days earlier.

Equal Pay Act and Time Limits

If you plan to file a charge alleging a violation of the Equal Pay Act (which prohibits sex discrimination in wages and benefits), different deadlines apply. Under the Equal Pay Act, you don’t need to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. Instead, you are allowed to go directly to court and file a lawsuit. The deadline for filing a charge or lawsuit under the EPA is two years from the day you received the last discriminatory paycheck. This is extended to three years in the case of willful discrimination.

Equal Pay Act And Title VII And Time Limits

Keep in mind, Title VII also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in the payment of wages and benefits. What this means is, if you have an Equal Pay Act claim, you may also want to file a Title VII claim. In order to pursue a Title VII claim, you must file a charge with EEOC first. Filing a Title VII charge will not extend the deadline for filing an EPA lawsuit. Figuring out how much time you have to file a charge is complicated. It also can be difficult to figure out the pros and cons of filing a charge under the EPA instead of a lawsuit. We would be happy to speak with you to explore your options.

If you choose to pursue a lawsuit, you should document each case of harassment that occurs. You will need to meet specific requirements before you can initiate a lawsuit against your employer. It’s best to involve a lawyer early in the process if you believe that your employer needs to be taught a hard lesson about how to conduct a workplace.

Contact Stanger Law Today

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, you should contact the experienced  employment law attorneys at Stanger Law.

We can help you with the process of resolving the situation and ensure all deadlines are met. We can also help you with the process of collecting evidence and litigating your claim against your employer.

Give us a call or contact us online to set up an appointment.

Bruce Stanger

My litigation experience includes family law, divorce, product liability, construction law, professional negligence, shareholder disputes, legal malpractice, and general commercial litigation.