There are certain ways California employers should handle sexual harassment complaints, but they often handle them poorly. When an employer doesn’t take the appropriate actions, the employee may then respond with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
When this type of behavior creates a hostile working environment, the first thing a victim should do is complain to the employer’s human resource department or other designated person who handles complaints. The designated person should listen to the complainant and let him or her know that the claim will be investigated. The employer should then investigate the complaint, interviewing witnesses and separating the complainant from the person who is alleged to be the perpetrator.
After the investigation is complete, the employer should take corrective action if the complaint was founded. At no time should the employer retaliate against the employee who filed the complaint. Employers should have an ongoing sexual harassment training for their workers and well-drafted policies in place for how harassment that occurs should be handled.
A person who is subjected to unwelcome sexual advances and is then is retaliated against by the employer after making a complaint may want to speak with an attorney to determine what the next step should be. In some cases it would be advisable to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission listing both the harassment as well as the retaliation. There is a limited time window within which this must be done. The EEOC has certain procedures that it will then follow as it conducts an investigation. One result could be that the agency would give leave for the victim to file a private lawsuit.