What to do if you are sexually harassed at work in Florida

sexual harassment between two employees

Sexual harassment in the workplace can be a frightening experience. The harasser often has some position of authority over the person being harassed. But Florida law is on your side if you are sexually harassed at work. Most reputable companies have sexual harassment policies that protect employees who experience harassment.

In most cases, if you are sexually harassed at work, you should follow company policy as stated in your company handbook or contact the company’s human resources office to report the incident. Below, we discuss steps to take when reporting sexual harassment.

If your company is not immediately responsive to your complaint of sexual harassment, you should contact a sexual harassment lawyer. You may be entitled to seek compensation for financial losses and the trauma you suffered due to sexual harassment in the workplace.

In Tallahassee, FL, Cruz Law Firm, P.A., has pursued more than 100 lawsuits on behalf of hardworking people just like you in response to difficult situations involving workplace sexual harassment. Reach out to Cruz Law today for a free and confidential initial evaluation of your legal options with a Tallahassee sexual harassment attorney.

Definition of Sexual Harassment at Work in Florida

Chapter 60L-36.004 (1) of the Florida Administrative Code prohibits sexual harassment within the workforce and says:

Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature from any person directed towards or in the presence of an employee or applicant when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Under Florida law, companies are to develop and advise employees of policies prohibiting sexual harassment and of procedures to investigate and resolve complaints of sexual harassment. Companies are to review all complaints promptly. Companies shall not tolerate retaliation against any person who has filed a complaint in good faith or participated in any manner in an investigation or proceeding involving allegations of sexual harassment.

Companies are to discipline any employee who engages in sexual harassment in accordance 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.

Florida sexual harassment laws cover public and private employers that have a minimum of 15 employees. At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also enforces sexual harassment laws for employers that have at least 15 employees.

Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

An individual who has been subjected to sexual harassment at work should obtain a copy of the company’s policy for reporting sexual harassment and follow it as closely as possible.

In preparation for filing a complaint, you should:

  • Collect evidence of the harassment, such as printed copies of offensive materials distributed in the workplace, such as email, text messages or social media posts, or any available photos or videos of the harassment.
  • Write out your complaint in your own words with as many specifics as possible – names of perpetrators and witnesses, places and dates where the harassment occurred, and any attempts you made to compel the harasser to stop.
  • If your employer does not have a formal policy, report the harassment in writing to your supervisor, your supervisor’s supervisor, or a human resources representative.
  • Keep copies of all materials connected to your complaint.

If at any point anyone pushes back on your attempt to file a complaint or takes steps to punish you, you should consult a lawyer immediately. Contact a Tallahassee sexual harassment lawyer with Cruz Law for a confidential discussion of your legal rights and options regarding a sexual harassment complaint.

Legal Options in Response to Sexual Harassment at Work

Regardless of your company’s actions, if you have been sexually harassed at work, you may also file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) within 365 days of the incident or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the incident. A knowledgeable employment law attorney at Cruz Law Firm can help you evaluate the appropriate step to take.

These agencies work together to protect the rights of workers. A conclusion issued by the EEOC serves as the determination of both agencies. You may be able to file a claim with either one of them if you live in the state of Florida and have been sexually harassed on the job. After investigating, either agency may first seek to mediate a settlement between you and your employer. This may result in the company committing to change and agreeing to compensate you.

If mediation does not end in an agreement that you find acceptable, the agencies will complete their investigations. If cause is found, but no settlement has been reached, the EEOC will issue a Notice of Right to Sue. In some cases, you may request a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC before their investigation is completed so you may file a lawsuit.

Once you receive a Notice of Right to Sue, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days. A lawsuit may seek reinstatement to a job you were wrongfully terminated from and compensation for:

  • Lost wages
  • Loss of reputation
  • Emotional distress and suffering
  • Punitive damages meant to punish an employer for intentionally creating or recklessly fostering a workplace culture of sexual harassment.

Talk to a Seasoned Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Tallahassee, Florida

Florida law and federal law prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace and provide the opportunity for those who have been harassed to demand compensation for what they have endured. In Florida, an experienced Tallahassee sexual harassment attorney with Cruz Law can help you file a claim with state and federal authorities and follow up with a lawsuit on your behalf, as necessary. We can handle every step of the claim filing process, from organizing evidence and interviewing witnesses to keeping up with deadlines and pressing your case for compensation in settlement negotiations or in court.

Contact Cruz Law today for a confidential consultation with a Tallahassee sexual harassment attorney from our firm. We represent workers like you from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle.

At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we represent employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We’ll fight to protect your employment rights, from workplace discrimination and sexual harassment to wrongful termination and whistleblower claims. Let us put our experience to work for you.