How Do I Report Sexual Harassment?

Lawyers Representing Victims of Workplace Misconduct

Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under federal, state, and local laws in New York. It consists of any unwelcome physical or verbal actions that are sexual or that are based on someone's sex. It must be either quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment harassment to be actionable. If you are wondering about how to report sexual harassment, the following Frequently Asked Questions may be of interest. Our New York City sexual harassment attorneys also can give you guidance related to your specific situation.

How Do I Report Sexual Harassment?

Generally, you should directly tell the harasser that their actions are unwelcome. Sometimes this stops the sexual harassment because a coworker or supervisor does not realize that what they are doing is offensive or harassing until confronted. However, you should also report the sexual harassment to your employer. The procedures for reporting sexual harassment should be in your employment handbook, assuming that you have one. If there are no formal procedures in place, you can report sexual harassment to your employer's HR department or person.

You should let your employer's HR know what happened in writing and date your writing. The reason for this is that some employers defend themselves on the basis that they did not know that the harassment was happening and therefore did not have the opportunity to stop the harassment. If you provide a dated, written report, the employer is put on formal notice and cannot use this defense for any harassment that occurs after the date of your notice.

Can I Report What Happened to the EEOC?

Yes. You have a limited window of time within which to report the matter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Moreover, filing a charge with the EEOC is a prerequisite to bringing a federal sexual harassment lawsuit. A charge is a signed statement claiming that the employer engaged in discrimination (in the form of harassment). It asks the EEOC to take remedial action. The agency will need to notify the employer that a charge was filed against it.

What Happens After I Report Sexual Harassment to the EEOC?

Within 10 days of your filing a charge, the EEOC sends a notice of your charge to the employer. Sometimes the EEOC will ask the employer and you to participate in mediation addressing the harassment. If the charge is not timely, the investigation is closed. If the employer and you agree to go to mediation, the mediator tries to help you come to a voluntary settlement. In other cases, the EEOC asks the employer for a written answer to your charge of sexual harassment. You must respond within 20 days of receiving the employer's position. An investigation may take place, during which retaining an attorney may be critical. The investigation may include interviews and the gathering of documents. The EEOC takes 10 months on average to investigate a charge. If any new events related to the harassment happen after you file the charge, you can add them by amending the charge. You must have a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC before you can sue your employer in federal court.

Can I Just File a Lawsuit Without Reporting the Sexual Harassment to the Employer or EEOC?

It is best to report the harassment to your employer and allow the employer to take corrective action. However, you do not need to file a charge and report the harassment to the EEOC unless you want to pursue a claim in federal court. You may wish to file a lawsuit under the New York State Human Rights Law or the New York City Human Rights Law, both of which offer more expansive protection than federal law to sexual harassment victims. In such cases, you should still report the harassment to your employer. However, you need not report the matter to an agency before filing a lawsuit for damages.

Get Answers From New York City Lawyers for Your Sexual Harassment Case

At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you if you are wondering how to report sexual harassment in New York City. We fight employment discrimination and harassment in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Westchester County, and New Jersey. Contact our attorneys at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form.

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