Virginia Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawyer 

One of the most common reasons that a person feels uncomfortable at work is sexual harassment. At its least severe, sexual harassment in the workplace creates a hostile work environment that causes emotional distress. At its worst, sexual harassment can involve inappropriate sexual touching or even assault.

Both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government employment agencies that are dedicated to investigating and forming resolutions to workplace sexual harassment. Virginia workplace sexual harassment lawyers could help employees to choose the proper path for their case. Those who have been harassed should work with skilled personal injury attorneys that could help them pursue the appropriate remedy for their situation.

How can Sexual Harassment Happen in the Workplace?

In general, any statement, implication, or action with a sexual connotation that would offend the average person can be considered harassment. It is no defense for the accused to state that the employee was in on the joke or made no complaint at the time. It is also no defense to argue that the conduct was a one-time incident. A single offensive action is sufficient for a sexual harassment complaint.

Common examples can include:

  • Making sexually charged comments
  • Offering opinions that denigrate one sex
  • Passing around inappropriate emails or letters
  • Making unwelcome sexual advances
  • Holding out sex as a path to advancement
  • Inappropriate touching

It does not matter if these actions are committed by a fellow employee or a supervisor; all members of the workplace have a responsibility to refrain from these actions.

What Can an Employee Do to Stand Up for Their Rights?

The first line of defense is always to file a complaint with a human resources department. The law requires most workplaces to have a human resources department to investigate claims of harassment. In some situations, this will resolve the issue. But other times the internal investigations process will not resolve the issue or the culture of harassment is so ingrained that HR will not be effective. Now the employee has two options. They can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and trigger an investigation, or they could receive a right to sue letter and sue the employee that harassed them.

Necessity of Filng a Complaint

Virginia has enacted the Virginia Human Rights Act that prohibits any kind of discrimination or harassment based upon sex. This law, in addition to federal prohibitions of sexual harassment, is enforceable by the federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This agency has the power to investigate all claims that are filed by employees that allege workplace sexual harassment in Virginia.

However, the employee must take the initiative to file a complaint no more than 180 days after the incident took place. If this time limit passes, the EEOC will likely decline to investigate and the employee may be out of luck.

Investigation of Sexual Harassment Claims

The EEOC has broad power to investigate the claim. They will interview witnesses, demand the delivery of paperwork, and examine security footage. This investigation may result in a guilty finding where the EEOC may order the reinstatement of a job, the payment of damages such as lost wages, or even formal civil violations in the workplace.

However, when the EEOC does not take action, they will issue a right to sue letter to the employee. This letter allows the employee to file a complaint in federal district court for direct compensation. Without this letter, the employee cannot go directly to the court. A Virginia workplace sexual harassment lawyer could help an individual pursue their case against the employee that harassed them.

Consulting a Virginia Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawyer

No person should be forced to endure any type of sexual harassment; especially not in the workplace. Both Virginia and federal laws prohibit any type of discrimination or harassment based upon a person’s sex. This harassment can take the form of inappropriate comments, unwelcome sexual advances, or unwanted sexual touching.

A Virginia workplace sexual harassment lawyer could protect the rights of workers to perform their jobs in a safe and welcoming environment. We file complaints and represent clients before the EEOC and file lawsuits in federal courts to restore the rights of workers. Contact an attorney today to see how they can help.