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Steps to take before suing your employer for sexual harassment

For most people being victimized by sexual harassment at work, the prospect of suing their employer can seem frightening and difficult. While litigation might eventually be necessary, much of the time the problem can be solved without things going so far. Indeed, many employers are eager to stop sexual harassers among their executives and managers, because they fear potential litigation.

Because of this, most larger employers have procedures in place for victims to alert management. Here are some steps employees can take to try to get sexual harassment against them to stop:

  • Confront the harasser. This will not always be possible, but in some cases letting the person harassing you know that his or her behavior is offensive. He or she might then stop, solving the problem.
  • Follow company procedure. Many employers designate a person, such as a Human Resources rep, to whom victims are supposed to report harassment. If there is no such person, you should report the harassment to your immediate supervisor.
  • File with the EEOC. If internal procedures don’t resolve the matter, you can file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The agency will investigate, and try to negotiate a settlement with your employer.
  • Litigation. If the agency and employer cannot agree on a resolution, the agency will issue a “right to sue” letter. This gives the victim permission to sue for sexual harassment.

Though many sexual harassment cases do not end up in court, it may still be a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney experienced in representing harassment victims.