The #MeToo movement has brought into the light instances of sexual harassment in the workplace, notably involving names in the news. Should a victim resort to social media sites to respond to sexual harassment by their boss? Or are there other options?
In fact, there are other paths to follow to report and address this form of harassment.
Unfortunately, in a 2015 survey, only one of three women reported workplace sexual harassment and some 70 percent of all victims made a report. Most likely, these numbers have not changed drastically in the past few years.
After the emergence of the #MeToo movement, there was seven percent increase in reporting criminal sexual harassment. One study found that only 27 percent of workplace sexual harassment was reported: 38 percent of female victims and 14 percent of male victims. Underreporting is still a problem.
There is a social stigma of being a victim. The workplace is a confined community. Petty run-ins can ruin a reputation. Reporting banned activity can stall the climb up the ladder of success. For women, the glass ceiling is still a reality in different employment venues.
Some victims weigh the cost of reporting an incident and wondering if it is worth it.
Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment Should Not be Silent
Federal law prohibits workplace sexual harassment. Retaliation for filing a claim is not allowed, and an employer cannot ignore the claim and incident.
If a worker believes they have been sexually harassed at work, they have options.
Options start with knowing one’s rights. Generally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state agencies provide information about what is sexual harassment and how to file a complaint.
If an employee is confused by the information or knowing their rights, they contact an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer working in workplace sexual harassment law.
One path is to go to the HR department. The employee should read the employee manual and any booklet describing the company’s policy and assistance afforded. If the HR department commits to pursuing the complaint honestly, the victim will have to report the complaint and notify their lawyer. It is important to note that an anonymous complaint faces obstacles of non-cooperation by those involved.
Another option is to consult with the employee’s union or collective bargaining group. Their bargaining position is a strength for individual members to deal with the employer.
The victim can file a complaint with an agency such as the EEOC or state entity. This is not an exclusive option. That said, a formal complaint must be filed in a limited time. With the EEOC, the deadline is not less than 180 days from the last incidence of harassment. Timing can be critical.
Yet other option is to sue the employer for not maintaining a safe workplace. Each state has different rules, such as whether the victim needs to provide notice first to an agency or to the EEOC before suing.
Contacting a Lawyer is a Wise Option
With options including going through the company’s HR, seeking the union’s help, filing a complaint with an agency, and filing an action in court, maneuvering down the different paths is not something the victimized employee should do alone. What is and is not sexual harassment at work depend on what is said or done, how it is said or done, and other factors. Victims should speak with an experienced lawyer committed to protecting their rights.
Mount Laurel Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Provide Trusted Legal Guidance for Victims of Sexual Harassment at Work
Frequently changing sexual harassment employment laws can be confusing. However, every employee has the right to a safe work environment. No one should be subjected to sexual harassment at work, especially from the boss. The South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, are ready to help. We will discuss the situation with you and lay out your best legal options. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.