You may be shocked and frightened if you are subjected to sexual harassment at your workplace, but you are not alone. The State of Florida offers you protection if you report this abuse and can punish an employer who allows sexual harassment to occur.
The attorneys at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., based in Tallahassee, are here to assist you. Rules for reporting sexual harassment are complex. Some employers don’t take allegations of harassment seriously. We can guide you through the reporting process. You may be entitled to demand compensation for your financial losses and trauma caused by sexual harassment. A sexual harassment lawyer with Cruz Law can help you understand your legal options.
It can be difficult to take a stand in a hostile work environment or if someone has directly threatened your employment. We will stand with you. Reach out to Cruz Law today for a free and confidential explanation of your legal options with a Tallahassee sexual harassment attorney.
What Is Sexual Harassment in a Florida Workplace?
The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 was adopted to ensure that everyone in the state was free from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. The Florida Supreme Court has since ruled that pregnancy discrimination falls within the parameters of employment discrimination based on sex.
The Florida Civil Rights Act applies to individuals, companies, employment agencies, and labor organizations that employ 15 or more people.
At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also enforces sexual harassment laws in cases pertaining to companies that have at least 15 employees.
The Florida Civil Rights Act allows the state Attorney General to file a lawsuit demanding an order to stop illegal behavior, civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, and other relief as may be appropriate if the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group:
- Has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination as defined by Florida law; or
- Has been discriminated against as defined by Florida law, and such discrimination raises an issue of great public interest.
Florida law requires employers to develop and advise employees of policies prohibiting sexual harassment and of procedures to investigate complaints of sexual harassment. Companies are to review all complaints promptly.
Retaliation against any person who has filed a sexual harassment complaint or participated in any manner in an investigation or proceeding involving allegations of sexual harassment is illegal.
Companies are to discipline any employee who engages in sexual harassment in keeping with the company’s policy. Any supervisor or managerial employee who has knowledge of sexual harassment and does not immediately report it directly to the person the company has designated to receive complaints of sexual harassment is also subject to disciplinary action.
Reporting Sexual Harassment at Work in Florida
An individual who has been sexually harassed in the workplace should report it to their company’s human resources department or other designated office in writing and follow all company policies about making complaints.
If an employer does not respond appropriately to a sexual harassment complaint, the individual may file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies may investigate and try to mediate a settlement, which may require the company to commit to change and make a payment to the harmed individual. If the federal agency becomes involved in a case, the Florida agency may defer to it.
If the investigation finds cause for the complaint and no settlement is reached, the agency will issue a Notice of Right to Sue. The injured employee then has 90 days to file a lawsuit, which may demand compensation or other relief, such as reinstatement to the job.
Preparing to Report Sexual Harassment
Evidence to support a sexual harassment claim must do one of two things:
- Establish a link between sexual harassment and an adverse tangible employment action, such as being denied a promotion or being fired.
- Demonstrate that the harassing conduct was so severe and pervasive that it constituted a hostile work environment.
Before filing a complaint, gather evidence of what has happened. Save any tangible forms of harassment such as email or offensive cartoons as well as copies of written communications from you reporting or objecting to sexual harassment. If you have yet to report the harassment, write down what has happened to you as specifically as possible. You should also:
- Document how the recipient of your complaint responds to your complaints of harassment. Save anything anyone else puts in writing about your complaint.
- Send the complaint recipient follow-up emails documenting every conversation and the steps they intend to take to end the harassment and protect you from harassment.
- Seek the cooperation of witnesses to the harassment. This may be co-workers who were first-hand witnesses or colleagues or others who you promptly told about the harassment.
- Make copies of prior job performance appraisals. After you file a complaint, an employer may conduct an appraisal that turns negative to intimidate you or to establish a pretense for firing you.
Let Cruz Law Firm Stand with You Against Sexual Harassment
The attorneys of Cruz Law Firm, P.A., represent Florida employees who have been subjected to workplace sexual harassment and other unjust treatment and discrimination. We have more than 18 years of combined legal experience and a positive record in the toughest employment-related lawsuits.
If you have a workplace sexual harassment complaint that your employer will not properly resolve, a workplace sexual harassment attorney from Cruz Law can help you file a claim. We can handle every step of your claim, from organizing evidence and interviewing witnesses to keeping up with deadlines and pressing your case for compensation in mediation or in a federal lawsuit.
Bring your workplace sexual harassment claim to Cruz Law in Tallahassee, FL. We will help you understand your rights, stand up for your interests, and hold your employer accountable. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation now.