At Lázaro Law Group, we understand the distressing and challenging nature of harassment in the workplace. We believe that no one should have to endure those uncomfortable situations and the legal complexities involved should never discourage you from pursuing the justice you deserve.
It is essential to remember that whether the harassment comes from a colleague, supervisor, or even a subordinate, such conduct is entirely unacceptable. Employment law is in place to protect your rights, and we are here to guide you every step of the way.
Clarifying Workplace Harassment
Before you file a harassment charge, it is important to understand what harassment may look like. Essentially, harassment includes any unwanted behavior that gets in the way of you doing your job or threatens your safety in the workplace. Harassment can be verbal, physical, or based in the terms and conditions of your job.
Your Action Plan Against Workplace Harassment
If you are experiencing or have experienced harassment in your workplace, you may want to consider taking legal action. In the event you decide to move forward with a legal claim, make sure to lay the proper groundwork:
Step 1: Document Everything
Start by collecting concrete evidence, which forms the foundation of your case. This might include problematic emails, text messages, phone call records, or any other documents that indicate harassment.
Do not dismiss uncomfortable or hostile interactions just because you do not have a recording or other documentation. Note down specific incidents with dates and times and names of the individuals involved, keep a timeline, and list any potential witnesses. Gathering such evidence may be challenging, but it is a vital step in asserting your rights.
Step 2: Report to Human Resources
As you experience incidents where you feel harassed or uncomfortable, make sure you inform your employer’s Human Resources (HR) department in writing. If your employer does not have HR, make sure to submit a written complaint to a supervisor or manager.
Provide as many details as possible in your complaint, including the name of the offender and the date of the incident. Even if HR does not take your complaint seriously, or worse retaliates against you for making a complaint at all, you have protected yourself and laid the legal groundwork for your claim by creating documentation of the harassment you were subjected to.
Step 3: Consult an Employment Law Attorney
If your employer fails to put a stop to the harassment after you complain, or they discipline you for your complaints, reaching out to an employment law attorney is the next step.
At Lázaro Law Group, we are committed to ensuring that you understand your rights, and will guide you through the next steps. We will assess the strength of your case and clarify the legal intricacies involved in filing a harassment charge.
Step 4: File a Charge with the EEOC and the IDHR
When necessary, we will assist you in filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). These administrative agencies enforce laws that protect employees from harassment due to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or pregnancy.
After you file the charge, you can select whether to have one of these agencies investigate your claims, or whether it makes more sense for you to opt out of the process and request a Right to Sue letter, which allows you to file a lawsuit in a court. An employment law attorney can help you determine which process is better for your situation.
Step 5: Litigation
Once you have your Right to Sue an administrative agency, you can initiate a lawsuit. There are several phases of litigation throughout the lifetime of a legal case and it’s very important to have competent legal counsel to guide you through the process. If you are successful at trial, you will be awarded legal damages, or monetary compensation for the harassment you dealt with.
We Stand with You
Every harassment case is unique, and every employee deserves a respectful, harassment-free workplace. If your rights have been violated, it’s crucial to act. We understand the emotional toll this process can take, and at Lázaro Law Group, our promise to you is unwavering support, professional advice, and strong representation.