Sexual harassment is unfortunately too common in workplaces throughout California. Victims of sexual harassment at work are protected by both state and federal laws. To file a lawsuit against an employer for sexual harassment, a victim may need to take certain steps, such as notifying their human resources department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to recent reports, the EEOC has filed few lawsuits over the sexual harassment claims it has received.
Sexual harassment has recently been a news topic in Hollywood. According to statistics, arts/entertainment workers filed 667 claims between 2005 and 2015. While the EEOC has filed claims against 16 companies during the last year, none of the claims filed were against movie studios, talent agencies or production companies.
In 2015, the EEOC received over 27,000 complaints of workplace discrimination. Of those, nearly a third involved harassment and about half of the harassment claims alleged sexual harassment. The EEOC believes that only about 10 percent of individuals who feel harassed at work ever file a complaint.
Filing a complaint with the EEOC is a preliminary step that an employee may be required to take before being issued a Right to Sue Notice from the EEOC. After receiving a claim, the EEOC generally conducts an investigation and will issue a Letter of Determination or a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. If a claimant receives a Letter of Determination, this means that the EEOC has determined that discrimination or harassment may have occurred. If the EEOC dismisses the claim or if the case cannot be settled, the claimant could still file a lawsuit in federal court.
In cases where the EEOC does not pursue a sexual harassment claim, the claimant may consider hiring an attorney. A lawyer could help a sexual harassment victim by interviewing witnesses, requesting documents, conducting legal research and litigating the case in court.