Many individuals who are the victim of sexual harassment choose not to report their incident mainly because they fear retaliation or the other possible outcomes of them reporting the harassment. Many also neglect to report an incident that occurred because they simply aren’t informed on how to handle the situation. The fact is, too many employees find themselves in these unfortunate situations and often don’t know who to turn to, how to file a complaint, or even what laws protect them in these instances. In return, many choose to stay quiet rather than speak up.
So, in an effort to help those who believe they have been sexually harassed in the workplace find their voice and use it, below we are addressing a few questions that may help you through this tough and confusing time.
What laws protect victims of workplace sexual harassment?
There are many laws that protect victims of sexual harassment and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania highlights them as the following
- The Crime Victims’ Rights Act. If the act of sexual misconduct is considered to be a crime, this law protects you giving you the “right to be reasonably protected from the accused.”
- The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). This law “prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, handicap, and disability.” The source states that the PHRC also “covers complaints of sexual harassment both in the workplace and as related to public accommodations.” A victim of sexual harassment must file their complaint with the PHRA within 180 days of the alleged act of harassment.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This law prohibits workplace discrimination and requires that your employer investigate any complaints filed. In the event they find that sexual harassment has occurred, they must take appropriate action.
- Chapter 62A of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, also referred to as the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act. This state statute “provides victims of sexual violence or intimidation a civil remedy that requires the offender to stay away from the victim regardless of whether the victim seeks criminal prosecution” only if they “do not have a family or household member relationship with the defendant.”
- The Rape Shield Law. This law “limits a defendant’s ability to introduce evidence or cross-examine rape complainants about their past sexual behavior that might undermine their credibility during proceedings.”
What should I do if I am the victim of workplace sexual harassment?
The first thing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania suggests you do is report the incident to your supervisor or to your human resource (HR) office. Your employer is required to “investigate all complaints and take prompt remedial action if they find that sexual harassment has occurred.” If you don’t feel comfortable with going to your employer or reporting the incident with your HR department, you can always hire one of our sexual harassment lawyers in Erie, PA who can help you take appropriate action to report the misconduct.
Aside from reporting the sexual misconduct to your employer, you also have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Now, if you find that your incident isn’t being handled properly as no progress has been made on your case or your employer has chosen to take no immediate action against the perpetrator, you may want to consult with one of our sexual harassment misconduct lawyers to find out what else can be done. Although employers today are taking sexual harassment cases much more seriously than were in the past, there are still instances where cases are swept under the rug.
Therefore, if you need to be connected with a sexual harassment attorney in the Erie, PA area, contact USAttorneys.com today and we will gladly help you find a legal professional nearby to you.