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With the #metoo campaign, what about workplace harassment?

Many Californians have been the victims of sexual harassment, and some may have participated in the online #metoo campaign. As stories abound in the media about powerful figures being accused of sexually harassing and assaulting women, some victims might wonder what they can do if they are being harassed at their jobs.

Workplace sexual harassment is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. These laws provide a way for the victims of workplace sexual harassment and sex discrimination to file charges of discrimination against their employers. Before these charges can be filed, however, victims must first file complaints within their companies according to their companies' outlined grievance procedures, assuming they exist.

Some women are frightened that they will lose their jobs if they file complaints about workplace sexual harassment. Retaliation against workers for exercising their legal rights to complain about illegal discrimination and harassment is also prohibited under state and federal law. Workers should familiarize themselves with the complaint procedure and make certain to follow it. Their complaints should be submitted in writing to the appropriate human resources person or supervisor. It is important for victims to thoroughly document the instances of harassment such as by writing down what happened, who was present, the dates and the times. Employers must investigate complaints, and if they fail to do so, the victims may then file discrimination charges.

People have the right to work in environments that are free from illegally discriminatory behavior. Workers who are being sexually harassed at work might want to talk to an experienced employment lawyer about asserting their employee rights. An attorney might help victims to gather the evidence and file the complaints. If the employers retaliate or fail to act, the attorneys may help the clients with filing discrimination and retaliation charges with the appropriate agencies.

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