It can be difficult to determine exactly what constitutes as harassment in the workplace, especially sexual harassment. Teasing or the occasional comment is not against the law, but there is a line that should not be crossed, especially in an environment where professionalism is required. This is what you need to know when identifying sexual harassment in the workplace. If you believe you’ve been harassed, please know that you do not have to put up with this kind of treatment.
Hard To Define
What many do not understand is that sexual harassment is not just improper advances or comments—rather, it is specifically defined as harassment based on sex or gender. For example, someone making inappropriate comments directed at their preferred gender might seem like behavior that is unprofessional, not discriminatory. However, it’s reasonable to assume that they would not behave that way with someone of a different gender—which is the definition of disparate treatment based on sex.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars unequal treatment based on certain characteristics, including race and gender. The South Carolina Human Affairs Law also prohibits sex discrimination and harassment, having been patterned over the Civil Rights Act. If you believe that you are being sexually harassed, you can, in theory, bring a complaint under either. The first step in the process of seeking help after harassment is to bring up the issue with your employer. However, if that is not fruitful, you must resort to other measures.
Filing A Charge
If you have come to the conclusion that you are being sexually harassed and your employer won’t work with you to ameliorate the situation, the next step is to file a charge with either the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In most situations, you have up to 180 days to file a charge, after which the agency will investigate its merit.
Generally, an agency investigation can take between six months and one year. Once an investigation has been completed, one of two outcomes will result. Either the EEOC will take up your case, (it’s rare, but it can happen), or you will be granted a letter that gives you the right to sue your employer in state court. If you receive a right-to-sue letter, it does not mean that your case is not winnable—it simply means that the agency is inundated with potential claims and must be quite particular in the cases it chooses to champion.
Can A South Carolina Sexual Harassment Lawyer Help You?
No one deserves to be harassed at work. If you have identified sexual harassment in the workplace, contacting an employment discrimination lawyer is a good first step toward seeking resolution. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling these types of cases for many years, and is happy to put his experience to work for you. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to schedule a consultation.