If you are the subject of inappropriate jokes, sexual advances, or other unwelcome attention, you may be a victim of sexual harassment. As a general rule, this type of harassment occurs when another person’s actions create a hostile working environment. A hostile working environment is defined as one that makes it difficult for a reasonable person to focus on his or her job. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do if you feel as if you have experienced inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
Gather Evidence That Supports Your Assertion
Before you file a sexual harassment claim, it’s important to ensure that you have evidence that backs your assertion. For example, you could create copies of text messages, emails, or social media posts that you consider to be inappropriate. You could also ask anyone who has witnessed incidents that might rise to the level of harassment to accompany you when filing a claim against a manager, coworker or other individual affiliated with the company.
How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work
In most cases, the first step in the sexual harassment reporting process is to make a formal complaint to someone within the organization. This can be anyone who you trust to take your allegations seriously and who will handle the matter with care. If you don’t feel as if your allegations will be taken seriously by anyone within the company, you can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In the state of Arkansas, you have 180 days after an incident takes place to file a claim with this agency.
What Happens After a Claim Has Been Submitted?
After a sexual harassment claim is submitted, an investigation will begin to determine if your claim has any merit. If an investigation determines that your claims are without merit, you may still have the opportunity to pursue civil action. In the event that an investigation reveals that your claim does have merit, your employer may reach out to you in an effort to negotiate a reasonable settlement. It’s generally in your best interest to have an attorney present during settlement talks.
If informal talks do not yield a favorable outcome, it may be worthwhile to take your case to court. In the event that you filed a claim with the EEOC, the entity will likely pursue litigation on your behalf if it believes that your claim has been substantiated.
You Cannot Be Retaliated Against for Filing a Sexual Harassment Complaint
Federal law prohibits employers from taking any type of adverse employment action against you because you initiated a sexual harassment case. Examples of retaliation include terminating your employment, docking your pay, or cutting your hours. Other examples of retaliation may include transferring you to another department or giving you a bad performance review.
If your employer does engage in retaliatory behavior, it may result in additional sanctions against the company. These sanctions may include fines, forced changes to company policy or other punishments that may be appropriate in a given situation.
What Are Some Potential Outcomes in a Sexual Harassment Case?
You may be entitled to financial compensation as part of a negotiated settlement or after obtaining a favorable verdict in court. A financial award may compensate you for lost wages, the value of benefits lost after a wrongful termination or other damages related to an employer’s improper actions.
It’s also possible that you’ll receive punitive damages. Punitive damages serve as a means to deter other companies from taking the same actions that yours may have. There is a chance that you may be reinstated to your old job if you were wrongfully terminated.
Anyone who was named as a defendant in your case may be subject to termination, a suspension, or other forms of discipline. Your employer may be fined for its actions, and managers may be required to take part in sensitivity training to minimize the risk of future instances of sexual harassment within the organization. Finally, your employer may be required to make changes to its workplace policies and procedures to help create a workplace culture that is safe for everyone.
If you believe that you have been a victim of inappropriate conduct in the workplace, don’t hesitate to reach out to a sexual harassment lawyer at McMath Woods P.A. This may be a good idea whether you want to resolve the matter through informal talks or a lawsuit. An attorney may be able to review existing evidence, obtain additional evidence during discovery or take other steps to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your matter.