What If Your Employer Fails to Correct Harassment in the Workplace?
The first step to handling a workplace harassment claim is always to report the issue to your employer, supervisor, or Human Resources department. Your company’s HR department should have protocols for remedying harassment and discrimination issues, such as investigating the incident or disciplining the harasser. Ideally, this will be the end of the problem and you can enjoy a harassment-free workplace. Unfortunately, employers don’t always protect the rights or interests of harassed employees.
File a Claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
If you’ve given your employer an opportunity to fix the problem internally and the company fails to act, your next step in the legal chain is to alert the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC takes allegations of harassment and discrimination seriously and will investigate your issue in depth. No employer wants the EEOC inspecting how he or she runs the office, as evidence of harassment could result in severe penalties. Here’s how to file your claim:
- File a Charge of Harassment. You can complete your Charge of Harassment, or Charge of Discrimination, form through the EEOC’s online portal. Submit your online inquiry using as much information about the situation as possible.
- Wait for the EEOC interview. The EEOC will review your inquiry and request a time to interview you. You will be able to discuss your harassment claim with an EEOC worker and determine whether you can and should file a charge of harassment.
- Sit through an EEOC mediation with your employer. After it investigates the issue, the EEOC may suggest a mediation program within your workplace. If this is the case, a mediator will try to get you and your employer to reach an agreeable settlement.
If mediation doesn’t resolve harassment in the workplace or if your employer refuses to agree to an EEOC investigation/mediation, you can Request a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC. In most cases, you will need to obtain this notice before taking your case to the next step. It serves as proof that you tried to settle your case through the EEOC to no avail.
Bring a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
Should EEOC intervention fail to remedy your workplace harassment case, you might have the right to take legal action against your employer. Obtain a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC after failed mediation efforts. This notice gives you the right to file a lawsuit against your employer in the California civil courts. Retain an attorney for help with a harassment lawsuit, as it can turn into a complex legal action.
Most employment lawyers take clients on a contingency-fee basis, which means you won’t have to pay attorney fees unless you win. There is a chance that a successful suit will result in reimbursement for attorney’s fees and court costs. Should your employer retaliate against you for filing a harassment claim with the HR department, EEOC, or civil courts, you can sue for damages. A harassment lawyer can help you seek maximum recovery for unfair job termination, pay cuts, and other forms of retaliation, as well as bring a harasser and negligent employer to justice.