Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, companies in California that have 15 or more employees are required to abide by rules that prohibit sexual harassment. Harassment can include anything from physical touching to jokes or other actions that make a worker uncomfortable. Furthermore, companies that have fewer than 15 workers should have training and other policies that work to prevent sexual harassment from taking place.
When an individual makes a complaint, there are several steps that an employer may take. In some cases, it may ask that the person making the complaint communicate with the person who allegedly committed the harassment. The goal is to resolve the problem without the need for a lot of paperwork. However, there are several issues that could arise for the person who comes forward with an allegation of harassment.
First, it could bring the accuser and the accused face-to-face, which could unduly influence the conflict resolution process. It may cause the accuser to recant or change his or her story to avoid escalation of the conflict or to avoid retaliation. Additionally, others may need to be interviewed to confirm if the events took place or not, which could compromise confidentiality. If others know about the compliant, it could also have negative consequences as the individual may be labeled as a complainer or whiner.
People who feel that they have been subjected to a hostile work environment due to harassment or unwanted sexual advances may want to have the assistance of counsel in having it rectified. If the situation is unable to be resolved through company procedures, the next step could be the filing of a claim with the EEOC or appropriate state agency.