Can I file a sexual harassment lawsuit if I am still employed?
By Ricotta & Marks, P.C. on August 9th, 2021 in
Can I file a sexual harassment lawsuit if I am still employed? Yes, you can file a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer while you are still employed. Given the power dynamic at play in sexual harassment situations, however, victims may fear coming forward and seeking legal recourse. They may assume that in doing so, they will lose their job or hinder their career. Many individuals may worry that exercising their legal rights will have consequences, hence they remain quiet.
Employers are legally prohibited from punishing employees who exercise their legal right to a safe work environment. The practice of penalizing employees for filing a complaint, participating in a workplace investigation, or engaging in some other legally protected activity is called retaliation.
Federal and state laws protect employees from retaliation, and any employee who experiences this unlawful behavior has the right to file a new complaint concerning the retaliation. Essentially, a retaliation claim is entirely separate from a sexual harassment claim. This means that the retaliating employer may be in even more trouble if they punish an employee for filing a lawsuit.
Q: I Want To File A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit. Where Do I Begin?
If you are ready to file a sexual harassment lawsuit, you have made a difficult first step. The decision to take action against your employer is not made lightly. It can be intimidating to fight for your rights, especially after you have experienced sexual harassment.
As always, the first step is to document the incidences of sexual harassment. Gathering evidence and maintaining a proven record of harassment is key to a successful lawsuit if possible. However, often in sexual harassment cases there is no evidence aside from your credible testimony. This is often enough to support a claim. File a complaint with your employer. Even if your employer does not have a formal channel to field complaints, alert the company of the illegal behavior through a human resources department or by informing your supervisor.
If you have already filed a complaint with the company yet the illegal harassment is persisting, it may be time to seek outside assistance. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the appropriate federal organization while the New York State Division of Human Rights is the relevant statewide institution.
In many cases, seeking legal assistance through an experienced sexual harassment attorney is the most ideal way to pursue your claim. Filing a lawsuit as an individual guarantees that your case is handled according to your expectations and desire.
Q: Will Filing A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against My Employer Hurt Future Job Prospects?
While possible, it rarely does. If your employer broke the law, it is well within your rights to file a lawsuit and pursue justice. In fact, companies that exercise their anti-discrimination policies and value a safe workplace will likely understand your position. Moreover, as discussed above, retaliation legislation protects job applicants from discrimination based on any complaints, investigations, and/or legal proceedings brought against a former employer.
Barring a successful FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request, any complaint you file through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is private and confidential. The same holds true for National Labor Relations Board investigations and claims filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights or the New York City Commission on Human Rights. If the EEOC files a lawsuit against your employer, however, this will become a public record. Naturally, the same is true if you chose to seek legal assistance and file a lawsuit individually. This means that future employers are able to see any lawsuit that you filed against a past employer.
Regardless, prospective employees rarely experience difficulty obtaining new employment due to a prior lawsuit. It would be entirely unlawful for employers to discriminate based on prior legal proceedings and thus is a rare occurrence during the process of obtaining employment.
Q: How Can I Protect Myself While Filing A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit While Still Employed?
Filing a sexual harassment lawsuit while still employed is a difficult decision that requires careful thought and consideration. Remaining employed while filing a sexual harassment lawsuit may feel counterintuitive or implausible to some, but it is your right to remain employed while undergoing legal action.
If you or a loved one is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace and would like advice, or are considering filing a sexual harassment lawsuit while employed, the Ricotta & Marks P.C. sexual harassment lawsuit team is ready and willing to help you and fight for you. No one should endure sexual harassment. Take action today and learn more about your legal rights by contacting our experienced sexual harassment lawsuit attorneys.