Despite belief to the contrary, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination in the workplace, most often carried out against those whose gender or sexuality differs from what is considered to be the norm. This does not change if your workplace is the venue. Both men and women are able to file sexual harassment claims, if their environment merits it, and the victim’s gender should not play any role in their chances of success.
How Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Discrimination?
Most people might characterize harassment as a misdemeanor or a minor civil infraction. However, sexual harassment at work (or indeed, any kind of harassment), does fall under the aegis of the EEOC, because it can contribute to a hostile work environment. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) clarifies further, stating that sexual harassment does not necessarily have to be about sexual matters, but rather about some aspect of gender (which people wrongly believe to be synonymous with sex).
Gender discrimination is expressly forbidden under both state and federal law, and sexual harassment very often has elements of gender discrimination, at least if it rises to the level of a hostile work environment. Keep in mind that it can be directed at anyone due to their gender. While many of the cases we hear about in the media are against women, a man in a predominantly female workplace, or a transgender person in a predominantly cisgender workplace, can easily be subject to such inappropriate treatment as well.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: The Complaint Process
While both state and federal law have processes for handling sexual harassment claims, it is generally recommended to start by trying to go through your employer’s conflict resolution mechanisms. In some cases, issues can be solved at this level without having to go through formal proceedings. However, if it does not succeed, the next step for most (after consulting a South Carolina employment discrimination lawyer) is to file a claim, either with the SCHAC or the EEOC, within 180 days. You may be able to do so with the EEOC for up to 300 days after the harassment occurred, depending on the situation.
Keep in mind that by federal law, no harassment lawsuit can start against your employer until you have explored your options either at the state or federal level. You might be able to bring suit for another cause of action, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress, but not against your employer for creating a hostile work environment specifically. If you file a charge and the agency declines to investigate, they will then give you what is called a right-to-sue letter, granting you the ability to bring a harassment suit, usually in federal court.
Get Help from a South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney. Attorney A. Christopher Potts practices exclusively in this area, and is ready, willing and able to fight for you. Call the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to set up an initial appointment.