Sexual harassment in the workplace occurs in various ways. In New Jersey, sexual harassment includes unwelcome requests for sexual relations, sexual advances, or other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
- A sexual harassment victim, as well as the harasser, may be a man or a woman, and a victim does not have to be of the opposite sex from the harasser.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
- The harasser may be an agent of the employer, the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a non-employee such as a customer, or a co-worker.
- Illegal sexual harassment may happen without economic injury or discharge of the victim.
If you believe you are going through sexual harassment at work, the chances are, you are feeling unsure about what to do or how to go about making a report. If you have decided you want (or need, for your protection) to report workplace sexual harassment, below are some of the options you have. Before deciding which option to go with, it would be best for you to consider several factors and seek professional advice.
Call an Employment Attorney
The most important step you should take is to immediately call an employment attorney who is knowledgeable in representing victims of sexual harassment. This is STEP ONE.
Make a Report According to Your Company Policy
Usually, companies have policies and instructions laid out about how to report workplace sexual harassment. However, if your policy makes it very clear it will not be reasonable for you to use it, you might want to consider going through another channel or seeking legal advice. For example, suppose your harasser is your supervisor, yet that is the only person you can report to. In that case, you should consider seeking legal advice or going through another channel.
Go Through Your Union
As a union member, the union can help you navigate the reporting process.
File a Claim With the EEOC or a Local State Agency
You can choose to file a charge with the EEOC at any point. Also, you can choose to file a sexual harassment charge with a state or local Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA). For instance, in New Jersey, you can file a claim with the state administrative agency, New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR).
File a Lawsuit With the Help of an Employment Attorney
It is important to note that, to file a Title VII lawsuit in federal court, you must have filed a charge with the EEOC and received a Notice of Right to Sue. There are no such agency filing requirements when filing a lawsuit in state court.
Other Things You Can Do if You Believe You are Going Through Sexual Harassment at Work
Choosing which one of the options mentioned above is the right path for you may take you some time. So, here are a few things you can do as you think about which option to go with:
- Say no (as long as you feel safe doing so) – Remember, the key element of sexual harassment is that the conduct must be unwelcome.
- Document it – Writing down specific dates and behaviors or comments will ensure you can present detailed examples once you file a report or lawsuit.
- Consult an attorney – Even though you theoretically don’t need an attorney to report sexual harassment to an employer or file a sexual harassment charge, it is advisable that you seek legal advice. Situations involving sexual harassment are usually confusing and complex.
Contact Our Office Today for Legal Help
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace, contact the Trabosh Law Firm and allow us to fight for your right to a workplace free from sexual harassment.