Protection against sexual harassment in the workplace is guaranteed by the 1968 Civil Rights Act (Title VII) and the Missouri Human Rights Act, which describe it as discrimination. Speaking up against sexual harassment can feel overwhelming. Before you can file a lawsuit, you must follow several steps. If you are a victim, talk to a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible to develop a strategy and start building your case.
Ask a Sexual Harassment Lawyer: How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Sexual harassment is defined by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
as any unwelcomed advance or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. To be considered sexual harassment, your experience must be one of the following:
● An explicit or implicit suggestion that you must submit to unwelcome conduct to keep your employment
● A direct or implied request to perform sexual favors to benefit your employment status
● Jokes, name-calling, threats, or any other behavior that creates a hostile work environment and prevents you from adequately performing your job
Examples of sexual harassment can include a supervisor implying that you may get a promotion if you perform a sexual favor. Still, it can also be as simple as telling lewd jokes or using offensive language. It's important to note that, when investigating sexual harassment, authorities will consider the impact on the victim's life and work and not the harasser's intentions.
Internal Report and Investigation
Before going to the authorities, you need to file a formal complaint with your supervisor or other workplace authority. You must keep a signed copy of your formal complaint and any other official communication made by the company regarding the matter. Upon receiving your complaint, the company must start an investigation and implement corrective measures. It is important to note that while the investigation takes place, your employer must guarantee your safety and provide special accommodations so you can avoid the harasser.
Corrective measures may include disciplinary action against the harasser, additional training regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, changes to internal policies and handbooks, and eventually, termination of employment for the harasser.
Filing with the Missouri Human Rights Commission
If your employer dismissed your claim, or if they failed to implement corrective measures and guarantee your safety, you need to file a complaint with the MHRC. Before you can file, you must take an online assessment to determine if the MHRC has jurisdiction
over your case.
After you file, the commission will begin an investigation in which they will conduct interviews with you, your colleagues, your employer, and the alleged harasser. They will also study all available evidence, including internal communications, informal communications between you and your harasser, surveillance camera footage, and anything else that can help prove or dismiss your claim.
Getting a Notice of Right to Sue
According to Missouri Law, if the MHRC finds evidence of sexual harassment or it takes more than 180 days to finish their investigation and give a verdict, you can request a notice of right to sue, which is necessary to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the MHRC finds enough evidence to prove your claim, they will penalize your employer and demand a corrective strategy. While this may take care of your work environment, you may want to seek compensation for your struggles. If this is the case, you need to file a lawsuit in a civil court and seek compensatory and punitive damages, depending on your situation. Sexual harassment lawyers in Kansas City
can help you file, gather evidence, and represent you in court.
The court may also start a criminal investigation if you were physically assaulted. Taking your case to court may also result in back payments and reinstatement if you were forced to resign due to the harassment.
Your Right Against Retaliation
If you report sexual harassment against yourself or a coworker, your employer cannot retaliate against you. Participating in a discrimination investigation as a witness is also protected by law. You cannot be demoted, terminated, or subject to any disciplinary action. Your employer cannot exclude you from training activities or advancement opportunities, and supervisors and coworkers can't behave in any way that contributes to an unsafe or toxic work environment.
Statute of Limitations
According to Missouri law, you have two years to file a lawsuit from the moment the harassment takes place. On the other hand, complaints with the Missouri Human Rights Commission must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination. Note, however, that the time it takes the MHRC to finalize its investigation does not give you more time to file the lawsuit.
Every worker has the right to feel safe and valued at their place of employment, and discrimination is forbidden by law. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, find a lawyer to help you fight for your rights.