Your Employer Has Certain Responsibilities
Usually, if an employee has been the target of sexual harassment, the first step in dealing with it is to file an internal report with their employer.
The employer has certain responsibilities once this happens, and if they fail to meet those responsibilities, it may be necessary to take the next step—which can involve filing a complaint with the EEOC or hiring an attorney.
Every employer’s policies may be slightly different, but in general, here are the things you should expect from your employer when you file an internal report of sexual harassment.
You Should Expect a Prompt Investigation.
Your employer should take your allegations seriously and assign someone to investigate them in a timely manner.
The investigator should gather information regarding the nature of the harassment, the name of the perpetrator, and the names of anyone who witnessed the treatment or who was also subject to it.
You may be asked to provide specific descriptions and a chronological account of the harassment—which is why it’s so important to document this type of abuse when it happens. If you held off on reporting the abuse for a period of time, you may be asked to explain the reason why.
You Should Expect Some Consequences for the Harasser.
Not all accusations of inappropriate behavior rise to the level of sexual harassment. But if the investigation confirms that sexual harassment occurred, your harasser should face disciplinary consequences.
Those consequences may involve an oral or written warning, demotion, reassignment, or the deferral of an expected raise or promotion. In serious cases, the person accused of harassment may be suspended or fired.
You Should Expect Not To Be the Target of Retaliation.
It is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for bringing charges of sexual harassment—even if the investigation finds that the behavior doesn’t rise to the seriousness of sexual harassment.
If you suffer professional consequences for bringing up allegations—such as demotion or reassignment, a reduction of pay, withdrawal of promotion or pay raise opportunities, or other professional consequences—your employer may be in violation of the law.
What To Do If Your Employer Doesn’t Respond Appropriately to Your Complaint
If you have filed a complaint regarding sexual harassment and your employer does not take the appropriate actions—including taking your allegations seriously, conducting a prompt investigation, and consequences for the harasser (if the investigation confirms your account), you should speak with an attorney.
This is especially true if your employer retaliates against you for filing a complaint of sexual harassment.
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The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.