Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

What can I do if I have been sexually harassed in the workplace?

Last week's post on the New York City Business and Commercial Law blog discussed the basics of sexual harassment and gave a few examples of what the wide term could cover. The question many employees may have is what to do about sexual harassment in the workplace-is there even anything they can do about it. The answer is that there are in reality a number of steps employees can take if they find themselves the victim of harassment, from speaking up to seeking employee representation.

The first thing a victim might consider doing is speaking up against the harassment-many people may not know others find their behavior offensive and once they are on notice of it, they may stop behaving in that particular manner. However, not everything is so easy to resolve and when this does not put an end to sexual harassment, the next step one might take is to look up the employer's procedure for such circumstances. Many companies have a detail procedure outlining how they handle such claims and if this is the case, it must be followed to the letter. Special attention should be paid to the time limits prescribed within the policies.

Where there is no set procedure, consider going to one's immediate supervisor and informing them. Keeping a record of the harassment, times, locations and other details is important as well. If this still does not resolve the matter, then the employee can file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The governmental agency investigates the claim and if possible, tries to resolve it through negotiations with the employer. If the claim is a valid one and cannot be resolved, the agency will issue a right to sue letter, allowing the claimant to take their case to court.

Through litigation, a claimant may be able to recover back pay, get reinstated into their job, get damages for emotional distress and even require that the employer create policies or training to stop harassment. An experienced professional may be able to guide New York residents who have faced sexual harassment through the legalities of the matter.

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Harassment: Actions You Can Take," Accessed Oct. 6, 2015

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