How to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Wondering how to file a sexual harassment lawsuit at work? It’s not as simple as just filing a claim with the court. There are steps that must be taken before you can bring a lawsuit. They include telling your company about the harassment and filing a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency that is tasked with protecting workers’ rights. If you skip these steps, your suit may be thrown out. You can learn more details about state and federal agencies that handle workplace sexual harassment claims here.

Sexual harassment attorneys are also valuable sources of information throughout the process of trying to stop harassment. And when other avenues for stopping your harasser are not successful, an attorney can help you in filing a lawsuit.

Steps to Take if You Are Being Sexually Harassed in the Workplace

The following sections describe the steps to take when you are being sexually harassed at work. If after taking these steps you don’t get satisfaction, your next step may be filing a lawsuit against the individual harassing you, as well as against your employer for their inaction.

Inform Your Company about the Harassment

California law safeguards all protected categories of employees from harassment, including harassment based on sex. Companies with 50 or more workers are required to provide sexual harassment training to supervisory level employees. If you are being harassed in spite of sexual harassment protections, file a written complaint with the Human Resources department or other organization within your company that is responsible for handling these issues. Keep carefully written records of every incident of harassment, including the date, time, who was involved and exactly what happened.

File a Complaint to the Appropriate State or Federal Agency

Another necessary step before bringing a lawsuit is to file a formal complaint with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You need to file with only one of these agencies, as complaints will be automatically shared with the other agency.  The agency will then investigate, decide not to investigate or may take another action such as recommending mediation. Once the agency decides it’s done with your claim, it will issue a “right to sue” notice. You can then file a lawsuit if you still wish to do so.  

How Do I File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against My Employer?

If you want to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer, it’s highly advised that you get the help of a skilled sexual harassment lawyer. You might wish to sue your employer because they didn’t stop another employee from harassing you or because your employer was the harasser. A lawyer will help you understand whether you have a strong case and what you might expect the outcome to be.

How to Start a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit against My Employer

To start a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer, your attorney will examine all the evidence to begin building your case. They will counsel you based on the evidence about what damages to ask for in your sexual harassment lawsuit. Damages are the losses that you experienced due to the harassment. They can include compensation for lost income, lost job benefits, emotional pain and suffering and punitive damages in cases of especially egregious harassment. Your attorney will file the paperwork for you and represent you in negotiations with your employer or argue your case in front of a judge or jury.

Understanding the Grounds for a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

In deciding whether to handle your sexual harassment case, your attorney will make sure there are strong grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit. In California, any unwelcome sexual advances are considered sexual harassment, as are unwelcome “visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex,” according to the State of California Department of Justice website.

Sexual harassment can be very blatant, such as a supervisor or manager’s threatening an employee with losing their job if they don’t agree to sex. It can also be less obvious but still create a hostile work environment. An example is if another employee repeatedly makes jokes of a sexual nature or puts up pictures of a sexual nature that make other employees uncomfortable. If employers don’t take action, they can face a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Understanding the Two Categories of Sexual Harassment

The names for the two categories of workplace sexual harassment in California are hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment:

  • Hostile work environment – Hostile work environment sexual harassment is the most common reason for complaints. This type of harassment takes place when a person is harassed based on their gender in a severe and ongoing way, making their working environment “hostile” to them. It could include one employee who consistently makes unwelcome sexual remarks to another employee. When employers have knowledge that such harassment is happening and don’t do anything to stop it, they could face a lawsuit based on a hostile work environment.
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment – This form of sexual harassment is based on the idea of “you do something for me and I’ll do something for you.” A manager who promises a promotion to an employee in exchange for a sexual favor is guilty of this type of harassment.

Ask Our Attorneys How to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Sometimes people who experience sexual harassment at work are afraid to come forward. They may feel embarrassed, wonder whether they are being too sensitive or even blame themselves for it. You shouldn’t feel this way. You have the right to go to work and not to be made uncomfortable or fearful by the harassing and discriminatory actions of others. Our attorneys have handled many sexual harassment cases, and we understand what you are going through.

Contact Gilleon Law Firm today at 800-408-2857 to set up a free consultation about your sexual harassment case with a compassionate and understanding attorney. We are proud to serve clients in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties.