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Addressing sexual harassment in the workplace: getting the EEOC involved, P.2

We began looking in our last post at getting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involved in situations involving sexual harassment in the workplace. As we noted, victims of sexual harassment are able in some circumstances to sue an employer or supervisors in court for sexual harassment, but because the EEOC is the primary agent to pursue such litigation one must usually receive clearance to sue in federal court before doing so.

A victim of sexual harassment may be able to sue before the EEOC has completed its investigation, though. To do this, the victim has to request a Notice of Right to Sue. The agency is required to provide such notice if 180 days have passed from the day the charge was filed. Before that time, the agency will only grant notice if the investigation is complete. 

The EEOC doesn’t always choose to file a lawsuit against an employer accused of sexual harassment or another federal violation. The agency has to carefully consider the legal issues involved and the seriousness of the violation, as well as the impact litigation could have on workplace discrimination.

Getting the EEOC involved in a sexual harassment situation at work can help to resolve the situation by holding responsible parties accountable. For sexual harassment victims, it can be nerve-wracking to pursue an EEOC claim since doing so opens up the possibility that the employer may take retaliatory action. Doing so is illegal, of course, and employees who have been subjected to retaliatory action should work with an experienced attorney to have their case evaluated and to determine the next best steps to take. 

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