Steps Women Can Take If They Are a Victim of Sexual Harassment In the Workplace
Sexual harassment and other discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion are crimes. Title VII in the Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination, including harassment, based on those attributes in every state. But even though sexual harassment and discrimination are illegal, they still happen. If you have experienced sexual harassment at your workplace, you can file a complaint with your state labor board, and you can also file a Federal Complaint with the EEOC.
What You Can Do if You’re a Victim:
Sexual harassment is never your fault. But if you are currently experiencing sexual harassment at your workplace, there are things that you can do to protect yourself and to hold your employer accountable.
The first thing you should do is get a written copy of your company’s policy on sexual harassment. Nearly every company has a stated policy on sexual harassment. You should have a copy in your employee handbook, or you might have had to sign a document when your employer hired you at your current workplace. If you don’t have a copy, you can usually get one from HR.
Read the company’s sexual harassment carefully. Then start keeping a log of every incident at work that violates the company’s written sexual harassment policy. Write down the event’s time, date, the names of the involved, and a brief description of what happened.
Make several copies of your incident list. Mail a copy to HR and your manager. Use certified mail to have tracking information or a signature to prove that they received the list. If you would instead email the list, you can keep read receipts to confirm the manager and the HR department received the list. Keep all communication in writing so that you have proof of the conversations.
It’s also a smart idea to gather as much evidence as you can. Keep copies of memos, emails, and any other discriminatory items. Take photos if necessary. The more documentation you have, the stronger your case will be.
Don’t wait to send the list to your boss and HR. If you don’t file a complaint within either 180 days or 300 days, depending on the type of business you work for, you may forfeit the right to file a claim and get damages from that employer.
Filing A Claim For Sexual Harassment
It’s a good idea to file a complaint at your state labor board and with the EEOC. In Rhode Island, you can file a claim with the State of Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. EEOC may automatically file your claim. Once a claim is filed with either agency, it will be investigated, and the next course of action will be decided. You may be entitled to compensation, back pay, and damages. Your employer may be fined or experience other penalties for their actions.
You have a legal right to work without being harassed or discriminated against. Sometimes women feel like they invited the discrimination or didn’t do enough to stop it, so they don’t file a complaint but remember that harassment is never your fault. You can hold your employer accountable.