Fayetteville, NC- Many people think of sexual harassment as behavior they must be most concerned about in the workplace, but this embarrassing and humiliating is by no means exclusive to the workplace. A North Carolina housing agency is facing a federal lawsuit which alleges two of their employees sexually harassed women who went  to them for help.

The Depart of Justice lawsuit alleges that two employees at Southeastern Community & Family Services Inc. in Fayetteville sexually harassed women who went to the agency to apply for housing vouchers. According to the suit, John Wesley and former state Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Pender inappropriately touched the women, made repeated sexual advances towards the women and retaliated against them when their advances were rebuffed, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

The suit also alleges that the agency failed to take action when they were informed of the harassment.

“No one, including those who seek public assistance for housing benefits, should be subjected to sexual harassment, particularly by the very people tasked with providing critical assistance,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

This is the second sexual harassment complaint to be filed against the agency, Wesley and Pender, according to the Fayetteville Observe. Last year, eight women filed a suit accusing the same two men of subjecting them to repeated sexual harassment.

The DOJ lawsuit seeks compensation for the victims, civil penalties and corrective actions.

In order for a person or persons to have legal grounds to file a formal sexual harassment lawsuit, they must be able to show that the harassment was repeated and pervasive. The behavior must be egregious and foster a hostile work environment which causes emotional distress and anxiety for the victim. The must also be able to show that when they complained about the harassment, their employer failed to take the actions necessary to stop the harassment.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives all workers and students protections from sexual harassment as well as outlining a course of action they can take if their employer or administrators fail to put an end to their harassment. Those courses of action include pursing their employer for compensation. The Fair Housing Act offers the same protections to people seeking housing.

Any employee subjected to sexual harassment must give their employer the opportunity to resolve the issue internally, either by disciplining or dismissing the harassing employee. Employers are strictly forbidden from punishing the reporting employ. When an employer fails to take the appropriate actions, the victim or victims can seek out a sexual harassment attorney and discuss whether they should enter settlement negotiations or pursue a civil suit.

Federal law allows sexual harassment victims to seek compensation loss of present and future wages and medical costs along with their emotional distress. With the assistance of a sexual harassment attorney and strong civil case, victims of this abusive behavior will be able to secure generous compensation.  Just know that if you are being sexually harassed, you don’t have to tolerate the behavior.