One of the most common reasons people are unhappy at work is sexual harassment. This is by no means an overstatement. Sexual harassment is much more prevalent than you’d think. The few stories that make it to the press are just the tip of a huge iceberg. It is estimated that 70% of sexual harassment cases go unreported. Not because they’re not serious enough, but because victims are afraid of the consequences if they speak out. It shouldn’t be like this. The only way to eradicate sexual harassment is to stand up for yourself. And go see a lawyer!
In the state of Virginia, any form of sex-based discrimination is prohibited under the Human Rights Act. If you are being discriminated against based on your sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, that is illegal. This means that people who engage in this type of behavior should face the consequences. If a guy robs you in an alley, you’ll expect him to go to jail for that. It’s the same thing. If a guy harasses you at work, he deserved to be punished for that. They don’t send people to jail for that, except in extreme cases, but they should be disciplined for their behavior.
How can sexual harassment lawyers help you? First of all, they can explain exactly what the law says. Technically, that would be the employer’s job, but since it is not mandatory for Virginia business owners to have an anti-discrimination policy in place, many don’t bother with that.
However, all employers, public or private, are required by law to investigate any sexual harassment complaint brought to their attention. If you haven’t already done that, seasoned employment lawyers will advise you to do that right away, and they’ll help you formulate your complaint. You should file your complaint with the HR or at least talk to your employer about your problems. In some cases, employers understand this is serious and take disciplinary measures against those responsible.
If they don’t, you’ve done all you could to settle the issue quietly. Now you are entitled to file a formal complaint with the Virginia Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal body that has the power to investigate discrimination complaints.
When you get to this point, Virginia sexual harassment lawyers will advise you what you need to write in your complaint and what proof you need to bring. What you need to know is that you only have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident. If you miss the deadline, the EEOC might dismiss your case, so you don’t have much time.
As for the evidence needed to substantiate your claims, don’t worry about that too much. When the EEOC investigates a case, they can summon witnesses, examine security footage or demand to see paperwork that might be relevant to your complaint.
Also, they have the power to mediate a settlement and award you damages for all your suffering.