Sexual harassment can happen to anyone regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment in the workplace has always been an issue. However, in the wake of the #Metoo movement sparked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, more and more victims of workplace sexual harassment are now speaking up about workplace harassment and inequality that they’ve endured for far too long.
In order to combat the rising number of sexual harassment cases reported in the workplace, most employers have implemented policies prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace and procedures for reporting sexual harassment. For example, most employers expect you to report the sexual harassment to HR, a supervisor, or maybe even some ethics hotline. However, if you’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, reporting it can be an overwhelming task. In fact, many people at work, including the harasser, may discourage you from speaking up or from filing any sort of complaint. You may also fear retaliation from your employer. The reality is that while employers have these policies in place, they are not actually enforcing them or protecting the individuals they are designed to protect. Still, however, there are several ways you can fight back even if the corporate route fails you.
First, you should make an effort to clearly document any and all incidents of sexual harassment, including any interactions you’ve had with the harasser. Oftentimes this means saving text messages, emails, voicemails, and documenting the dates on which each encounter occurred. As a plaintiff’s lawyer, the first thing I ask my clients is whether they have documented any conversations or encounters they’ve had with the harasser. I understand, however, that it is not always possible to document all encounters with the harasser and many times the harassment is verbal and not in writing.
Then, if the company fails to assist you with your claim – This could include failing to take your complaint seriously, refusing to conduct an investigation or conducting a less than thorough investigation, retaliating against you for filing a complaint, and forcing you to continue to work with the sexual harasser, among other things. – you can file a complaint of sex-based discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Bear in mind that you must file your complaint with the TWC within 180 days from the day the discrimination took place. The 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days for a complaint filed with the EEOC.
In the end, I understand the difficulty of fighting your employer while also navigating state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment. The trauma associated with sexual harassment alone is overwhelming and consuming. At the Law Office of Rob Wiley, P.C., we can fight on your behalf and provide a sounding board for your sexual harassment claim. Everyone is entitled to safety and equality in the workplace. If you have been subjected to inequality or sexual harassment, do not hesitate to contact us to fight for you!