You are entitled to file a complaint for sexual harassment with the EEOC to secure a remedy. Whether the remedy includes a new position, reinstatement, back pay or punitive damages, courts are prepared to provide you with the justice you deserve.
At Gilleon Law Firm, our attorneys have successfully represented hundreds of sexual harassment victims, and we have deep knowledge of the state and federal laws that govern this issue. We can help you file a complaint for sexual harassment with the EEOC and file a lawsuit in court. Our attorneys are tough on companies that allow sexual harassment to go on in the workplace. At the same time, we are compassionate toward clients and shield them from unnecessary scrutiny. If you believe you have a sexual harassment claim, call us at 800-408-2857. to find out more about how we can help. The initial consultation is free.
The EEOC public online portal
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a public online portal where a person can submit an inquiry, schedule an appointment and file a sexual harassment charge. A person can submit a Charge of Discrimination through the online system after first submitting an inquiry and participating in an interview. Through the EEOC’s Public Portal, you will be asked a few questions, and this will help staff members determine whether EEOC is the right federal agency to handle your complaint.
In-person appointments at an EEOC office
There are EEOC field offices throughout California, and a person has the option of submitting an inquiry in person at one of these offices. Walk-in appointments are welcomed. To find an office near you, go to https://www.eeoc.gov/field-office for more information.
Representation by a skilled sexual harassment attorney
A sexual harassment attorney at Gilleon Law Firm can be a strong advocate for you when filing a sexual harassment complaint. We would be glad to answer your questions about the EEOC and offer you guidance about how to initiate a complaint and pursue a legal claim.
What qualifies as an EEOC complaint for sexual harassment?
Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It can include direct sexual harassment as well as a hostile workplace environment in which harassment is tolerated.
According to the EEOC:
“Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
“Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.”
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
There are both overt and subtle forms of sexual harassment, but all forms are damaging and illegal. A victim should never minimize or feel ashamed to come forward if she or he has been the victim of such harassment. Following is a list, though certainly not comprehensive, of various forms of sexual harassment:
- Making jokes, comments, or derogatory remarks that are sexual in nature
- Forcing physical encounters like touching, standing too close, assault or confining a person’s movement
- Revealing private body parts inappropriately to intimidate or solicit
- Promising promotions, opportunities or employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
- Overt or ongoing suggestions to engage in sexual activities
- Retaliation or threat of retaliation if sexual advances are rebuffed
- Showing materials that are sexual in nature including photos, videos, audio feeds, etc.
- Verbal abuse that includes whispers or cutting remarks about a person’s body, sexual orientation or manner of dress
- Other actions that include sexual inuendo or intent.
If you have faced any of these comments or experiences, you may have a legal claim for sexual harassment and could be entitled to damages and/or a remedy.
According to the EEOC, harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.
Your rights under California law
The California Attorney General’s Office lays out your rights under state law if you face sexual harassment. Employment discrimination and workplace sexual harassment are covered under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.
According to the California Attorney General’s Office:
“Under California law, the offensive conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire, but may be based upon an employee’s actual or perceived sex or gender-identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, and/or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser, and actions that subject co-workers to a hostile work environment.”
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the state agency charged with protecting Californians from unlawful discrimination in employment. DFEH can pursue civil rights violations damages on your behalf. You may file a complaint with DFEH online, by mail or over the phone.
What are the legal remedies for a sexual harassment or employment discrimination lawsuit?
The EEOC provides remedies for employment discrimination. The goal of the law is to put the victim of discrimination and sexual harassment in the same position (or nearly the same) that he or she would have been in if the discrimination had never happened. The relief will depend upon the types of sexual harassment involved and the effect it had on the victim. Compensatory and punitive damages can also be awarded in some cases.
According to the EEOC, there are limits on the amount of compensatory and punitive damages a person can recover. These limits vary, depending on the size of the employer:
- For employers with 15-100 employees, the limit is $50,000.
- For employers with 101-200 employees, the limit is $100,000.
- For employers with 201-500 employees, the limit is $200,000.
- For employers with more than 500 employees, the limit is $300,000.
What actions are employers required to take to stop or prevent sexual harassment?
State and federal laws make it clear to employers that specific actions must be taken to put employees on notice and proactively stop or prevent sexual harassment. It is not enough for a company to simply state that they frown on harassment in the office or workplace. That is an inadequate response. Nor can an employer discourage an employee from filing a complaint with an HR department or the EEOC. Following are actions an employer is required by law to execute:
- Government Code 12950: An employer must distribute written materials that comply with this code.
- CCR 11023: An employer must develop a corporate policy in writing to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on CCR11023. It must list protected groups under FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act), establish a confidential complaint method, clarify laws prohibiting sexual harassment, promise non-retaliation and require supervisors to report any complaints of sexual harassment to the appropriate party, among other things.
- Post a copy of the official poster titled “California Law Prohibits Workplace Discrimination and Harassment.”
Does the harassment have to be violent or physical for me to win a legal case?
Absolutely not. Sexual harassment includes all kinds of verbal, visual and behavioral activities that are sexual in nature. Violence or physical touch is not required to establish a violation of your right to be free of sexual harassment at work or within organizations.
Contact a skilled sexual harassment attorney today
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment on the job and don’t know where to turn, the skilled and experienced attorneys at Gilleon Law Firm are here to help. We’ve successfully represented hundreds of sexual harassment victims, and we are determined to hold employers accountable. At the same time, we are compassionate toward clients, and we treat all clients with dignity and respect. If you believe you have a sexual harassment claim, call us at 800-408-2857. to find out more about how we can help. The initial consultation is free.