How to File a Complaint for Sexual Harassment at Work
| Read Time: 3 minutes | Sexual Harassment

When you experience sexual harassment at work, a complaint alerts your boss and the company about the harassment. Our firm helps workers deal with sexual harassment, starting with filing a complaint under your employer’s sexual harassment policy. If the internal complaint policy isn’t effective, you can file a complaint with a state or federal civil rights agency. Once the agency confirms you have a legal claim, your attorney can help you file a civil lawsuit to recover damages and stop unlawful employment practices. Contact King & Siegel LLP today.

What Is Sexual Harassment? 

Sexual harassment is unwanted touching, comments, or written communication based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or sex (including pregnancy and related medical conditions). But not all teasing or offhand comments qualify as harassment. For example, if they are not very serious or only happen once, they probably don’t rise to the level of harassment. Offensive behavior becomes harassment when it affects the terms of your employment or your ability to perform your job. Many types of offensive conduct count as sexual harassment, including comments disparaging a person’s gender that are not sexually motivated. Anyone harmed by witnessing sexual harassment may have a claim, not only those directly targeted by the harasser.

California Sexual Harassment Laws

In California, every person has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment. Employers have a legal duty to stop harassment from happening and fix it right away if it does. Each workplace must have a harassment prevention policy explaining the internal process for resolving complaints. Employers with five or more employees must provide anti-harassment training to all employees. Employers have legal responsibility for the behavior of supervisors and agents. Once the employee reports the harassment, employers are liable for the behavior of coworkers, managers, supervisors, clients, suppliers, and customers.

How to File an Internal Complaint for Sexual Harassment at Work

The first step to holding an employer accountable for harassment is filing a complaint. A formal complaint alerts the employer that it needs to take action to stop unlawful behavior in the workplace. You can report the harassment to your employer, a supervisor, or the HR department, following the process outlined in the internal company harassment policy. This documents the misconduct and gives the employer the opportunity to discipline the wrongdoer.

You can also report the harassment to a civil rights enforcement agency, like the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

When you file a complaint with a civil rights agency, it will investigate your complaint to see if the employer violated any laws. If you have a legal claim, the agency will deliver your complaint to your employer. The agency will encourage you to resolve the complaint through dispute resolution services or mediation. 

The Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

When you contact a sexual harassment lawyer, they will review your situation and explain the best action to take. If you’ve already tried to resolve the harassing behavior, filing a lawsuit may be the next step. A lawsuit allows you to speak publicly about the abuse and recover financially. While it can be difficult to relive the harassment, a lawsuit can serve justice and stop harmful employment practices.
Filing a lawsuit may prompt the employer to resolve the complaint with a settlement offer. Otherwise, the case may need to go to trial if the employer denies responsibility. Our attorneys have the litigation experience to fight for your rights until we reach the resolution you deserve. We will interview your employer and collect evidence that backs up your claim. We will handle all the details and communication until the conclusion of your case.

California Statute of Limitations for Sexual Harassment Claims

The statute of limitations sets the time you have to file a complaint after an incident of harassment. In 2019, the California legislature voted to extend the timeline from one year to three years. Thus, you must file a complaint with the DFEH within three years of the last incident of harassment. When the DFEH receives your complaint, it has 150 days to investigate or issue you a right-to-sue notice. Once you receive your right-to-sue notice, you only have one year to file a civil suit.

King & Siegel LLP: Defending the Rights of California Workers

California employers have a responsibility to stop sexual harassment. The obligation exists regardless of how many employees they have. However, there are times when the employers you rely on for your job and economic stability disregard their duty to protect their workers. That’s where we come in. The employment attorneys at King & Siegel offer every client compassionate and personalized legal services to meet your needs. Using our superior legal skills, knowledge, and experience, we will provide support for your claim every step of the way. You can rely on our professionals to make your voice heard. We will fight to secure justice and compensation for the harm you endured. Sexual harassment claims have a relatively short statute of limitations, so don’t wait to file your complaint. Contact the attorneys at King & Siegel to start your case today.

Author Photo

Elliot Siegel graduated with honors (cum laude) from NYU School of Law and practiced at some of the country’s biggest litigation firms where he learned to litigate strategically, aggressive, and efficiently by some of the best trial lawyers in the Country. It was here that Mr. Siegel saw how important access to competent and good counsel was in navigating the legal system, and how rarely employees and other members of the public could find that type of representation. This realization led him to dedicate his career to representing employees and consumers who lacked the resources to protect themselves from being preyed on by their employers or unscrupulous businesses by co-founding King & Siegel in early 2018.