What Happens After You Report Harassment at Work?

Sexual harassment is a common offense workers have to deal with in California. From inappropriate jokes and remarks in the workplace to physical sexual assault, an employee may face many forms of harassment at work in Los Angeles. You did the right thing by reporting harassment to your employer or Human Resources department. Now, continue protecting your rights by staying vigilant.

Be on Alert for Retaliation and Hostility

Retaliation is an employer punishing an employee simply for exercising his or her rights under the law. If an employee reports sexual harassment or discrimination, for example, and a few days later gets fired, he or she may be the victim of retaliation. While California is an at-will employment state, meaning an employer can fire an employee for no reason, retaliation is against the law. An employer lawfully cannot retaliate against a worker through job termination or other penalties for reporting safety, health, legal or ethical violations.

Be alert for signs of retaliation or hostility in the days and weeks following your harassment report. An employer, manager or coworker treating you differently in a negative way could be a form of retaliation. Hostility may include insults, deprecating jokes, the silent treatment, bullying, isolation, being removed from special projects or physical assault. If you are facing retaliation or a hostile work environment after reporting harassment, you may have the right to file an additional claim against your employer.

File a Complaint With the EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is one of your main advocates during a discrimination or harassment claim. It is the federal entity in charge of enforcing laws that protect employees from these offenses, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC investigates claims and complaints brought by employees. It has the power to attempt to settle the matter with the employee and employer. It also has the ability to file a lawsuit for the protection of individuals as well as the interests of the public.

If you report harassment at work and your employer does not do anything to resolve the issue—or if you face retaliation or hostility—file a formal complaint with the EEOC. You must first seek counseling about how to handle the situation from a counselor at your local EEOC office. Your counselor will give you directions on how to file a formal complaint. You will then have 15 calendar days after receiving the notice to file to bring an official complaint. Your formal complaint should include your name, phone number, address, a description of the harassment, why you believe you faced harassment, a description of your damages and your signature (or a lawyer’s signature).

Once the EEOC receives your formal complaint, you should receive a letter of confirmation. The agency will then review your complaint and begin an investigation. The EEOC must complete its investigation within 180 days of the last incident of harassment or discrimination. The agency will then allow you to either ask the EEOC to confirm whether harassment occurred or request a hearing before an EEOC Administration Judge. You will have the right to accept or deny a settlement achieved by the EEOC.

Hire a Harassment Attorney to File a Lawsuit

You may want to contact a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney if your company does not properly respond to your complaint or refuses to obey the terms of an EEOC settlement. Act quickly, however, as you will only have 180 (or 300, depending on state laws) days to take legal action after filing an internal complaint with your employer. A lawsuit could seek damages from your employer for harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation. Damages refer to compensation for related losses, such as job termination, lost wages and emotional distress. Use a lawyer to help you seek money damages through a lawsuit if you experienced harassment in California.