A co-worker kissed my on the forehead in the middle of work and so i filed a sexual harassment complaint. I know of one other person in my dept who had already complained to them about this person, so this is not the first time. My HR department did not document or follow the sexual harassment procedures in the Employee Handbook. They have treated the incident extremely lightly and did nothing but verbally tell him to stop. Nothing was documented, no serious action, and now i am left feeling very uncomfortable and a victim in the workplace. Do i have grounds to file a lawsuit against my workplace? How do I go about starting this process? Do I need to quit first?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Your employer is very foolish to not take your complaint seriously, follow their own procedures and reprimand the employee who acted inappropriately. Although, at least they did tell him to stop. For sexual harassment in the workplace to be actionable (viable lawsuit in court), it must be either severe or pervasive. If this happened only one time to you, it does not appear to have risen to the level of severe or pervasive. If it, or anything similar to it happens again, call an employment law attorney to discuss. If you are retaliated against for complaining about the harassment, call an employment law attorney.
Whether the 'harassment and hostile environment' and the failure to properly handle the complaint is serious enough to justify filing a lawsuit needs to be determined in a review of all the facts. You have grounds to start with a formal Complaint of Discrimination filed with the Dept of Fair Employment and Housing or the EEOC. You should consult with experienced employment counsel to determine what can and should be expected in this case. If serious about getting such help in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. I've been doing these cases for many years.
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