As an employee and executive in Austin, you have many rights. One such right is the right to work in a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. If your rights are violated, you may have the right to certain remedies under the law. At the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg, we help you assess your rights and remedies if you have been victimized by sexual harassment. To learn more about sexual harassment laws and your rights if you have been sexually harassed, please call our law firm directly today for your free consultation.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment refers to harassment that is of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal harassment that is sexual in nature, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is important to note that teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents do not necessarily constitute sexual harassment; in order for harassment to be illegal, the harassment must be so severe or occur so frequently that it creates a hostile work environment or when it results in a decision that adversely affects an employee, such as the denial of a promotion. The nature, frequency and content of the inappropriate, sexually oriented comments can form the basis of sexual harassment or a hostile environment based upon gender. Another important thing to keep in mind is that sexual harassment does not only refer to harassment that happens between a supervisor and subordinate, but also includes sexual harassment between co-workers.
What to Do When Sexual Harassment Is Occurring at Work
If you are being sexually harassed at work, it’s important that you know what to do to put an end to the harassment, protect yourself, and stand up for your rights. Steps to take if you are sexually harassed in the workplace include:
- Clearly tell the harasser that you are uncomfortable with the behavior. While it can be very difficult to do, one of the most important first steps that you should take if you are being harassed is to clearly tell your harasser that you are uncomfortable with what’s going on and that you want it to stop immediately. It is also important to make clear that sexually inappropriate comments or conduct is not a joking matter. If you can, document incidents and immediately report the harassment to your HR department. If your supervisor is a senior executive, or an HR Person, review your employee handbook to determine who the appropriate individuals are to report such harassment.
- Collect and document all evidence. Even if the harassing behavior stops–and definitely if it does not–you should preserve and document all evidence related to the harassment, including any emails or text messages between you and the harasser, notes about your conversations, and details of times that you’ve been harassed.
- Seek advice from a professional. If the harassment has not ended and/or if you have been adversely affected by the harassment, it’s time to get a professional involved. In addition to the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), you should strongly consider a consultation with an Austin attorney that is Board Certified in Labor and Employment law that is experienced in helping victims of sexual harassment.
- Retaliation is prohibited if you complain. If you complain about sexual harassment, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against you for making such complaints. Retaliation could include demotions; reductions in pay; write ups; or termination from employment.
Remedies for Sexual Harassment
In order to pursue any potential legal claims for sexual harassment, you need to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division in Austin. There are very short time limitations to file such claims, as discussed below. Simply put, if you do not file timely, you lose the right to pursue a sexual harassment claim. This is why it is extremely important to reach out to an experienced, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney in Austin to help you assess your case and assist you in understanding these important deadlines.
Federal and State law provides a range of potential damages as a remedy for sexual harassment victims. Although no amount of money could possibly compensate victims of sexual harassment, the laws provide the following categories of damages:
- Reinstatement to your position if you were demoted or terminated;
- A promotion that you were wrongfully denied promotion;
- Backpay for lost wages you suffered as a result of the sexual harassment;
- Compensation for any lost fringe benefits, such as health insurance or bonuses;
- Medical fees incurred as a result of the harassment, such as costs of seeing a therapist;
- Legal fees; and
- Compensation for emotional harm;
- punitive damages to send a message to the company to prevent such conduct in the future.
Bringing Forth a Sexual Harassment Claim
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, one of the most important details that you need to know is that you have a limited amount of time to act. Under both federal and Texas laws, you only have 300 days to file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or 180 days from the date that the harassment occurs to file a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission-Civil Rights Division. If you fail to file a charge within this amount of time, you may be barred from bringing forth your complaint at all.
Once you file your charge, an investigation into your claim will be opened. An attorney can guide you through this process.
Call Us Today
Austin Sexual Harassment Attorney Today
Understanding your rights as someone who has been sexually harassed and victimized at work can be confusing, and speaking up and taking action may be very intimidating. At the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg, we understand what you’re going through. For legal counsel and advice as you navigate the process of filing a claim and seeking damages, please call our experienced attorney directly today or send our law firm a message requesting more information. We offer free case evaluations. Call or email us today.