Can I File a Sexual Harassment Complaint Anonymously?

Sexual harassment is an offense many men and women face at work in California. A 2018 study by Stop Street Harassment found that 81% of women and 43% of men in the U.S. have experienced some form of harassment or assault in their lifetimes. Sexual harassment can create a hostile or intimidating workplace and interfere with your ability to work. It could also lead to physical, emotional and psychological injuries. If you are experiencing sexual harassment, find out whether you can report the issue anonymously.

Types of Harassment

First, verify that the issue in your office constitutes sexual harassment. The State of California defines sexual harassment as making unwanted sexual advances or engaging in other unsolicited conduct of a sexual nature. This can include physical, verbal or visual conduct. Sexual harassment can happen to any worker of any career level, gender and age.

  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Sexual assault
  • Impeding or blocking the victim
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment
  • Threats or intimidation
  • Sexually suggestive gestures, expressions or illustrations
  • Jokes, comments or epithets of a sexual nature.

In general, an isolated event or petty annoyance will not meet the definition of sexual harassment in California. The issue must be consistent, pervasive or severe enough to interfere with your ability to work, or else to create a work environment where you do not feel welcome or safe.

California Sexual Harassment Laws 2020

In California, it is an employer’s legal duty to provide a safe work environment for employees. An employer owes many responsibilities to employees, including implementing a sexual harassment prevention plan. The plan should include a way for employees to come forward and report sexual harassment without fear of retaliation or negative consequences. An effective anti-harassment policy should exist in the workplace, along with required training for supervisors and other employees.

California law states that by January 1, 2021, employers with five or more employees must provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors and one hour of training to nonsupervisory employees, once every two years. The sexual harassment training for workers must explain the definition of sexual harassment, what constitutes harassment, what solutions are available to victims, where victims should report harassment at work and more.

Complaint Process in California

If you face sexual harassment at work, follow your employer’s reporting process. Your employer should have a system in place that allows you to anonymously and confidentially report sexual harassment. If you have to make your identity known eventually, your employer should have systems in place to protect your anonymity and only expose your name on an as-needed basis. In general, it is easier to remain anonymous during a vague sexual harassment complaint compared to one against a specific person or regarding a specific situation.

Your employer should have a process for effectively resolving sexual harassment and discrimination complaints in the workplace. You should not have to fear retaliation, as it is against federal law to take adverse employment actions against someone for reporting sexual harassment. If your boss does not resolve the issue or retaliates against you for coming forward, take your sexual harassment claim to the next level: the state of California.

Report workplace sexual harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate a formal complaint and help you resolve the issue with your employer. If the EEOC’s mediation process fails to resolve the problem, you will have the right to file a civil lawsuit against your employer for sexual harassment in California. A lawsuit could demand compensation for your losses, including job termination, and hold your employer liable for failing to prevent or properly respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact an attorney for more information. A lawyer can help you report sexual harassment and protect your anonymity during the claims process.