Three Steps to Take Before Suing for Workplace Sexual Harassment

Woman with her hand raised to call our workplace sexual harassment

Workplace sexual harassment looks a little different today than it did 50 years ago. Although misogyny and homophobia are less overt, sexual comments and bullying over someone’s gender or sexual orientation are unfortunately common. Workplace sexual harassment is a Title IX issue. The law protects a person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parenthood status, and sex-specific medical matters. Employers should hold perpetrators of sexual harassment accountable in order to make a safer, more comfortable workplace for all. However, before you file a lawsuit, you’ll need to complete a few steps to help strengthen your case.

Report Workplace Sexual Harassment to Your HR Department

As soon as workplace sexual harassment happens, it’s time to bring the situation to your employer’s Human Resources department. If you do not feel safe speaking to the perpetrator, your HR department should protect you as they investigate. Unfortunately, many employers fail to adequately accommodate victim’s needs or investigate the matter fully, allowing some perpetrators to continue offending. If a talk with your HR department doesn’t remedy the situation, it may be time to escalate to the next step.

File a Complaint with a State or Federal Labor Organization

Of course, there are several state and federal agencies designed to protect workers’ rights. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) holds California employers accountable and could bring complaints on your behalf. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that handles the same types of cases. Luckily, both organizations are linked so a victim of workplace harassment only needs to file one complaint which will be distributed to both agencies.


Before you take either of these steps and proceed with filing a lawsuit, though, you should ensure you have as much evidence of the harassment as possible. In a journal, via text message, or via email, describe the sexual harassment in detail, including when it happened and who was around. Keep all records of filing a complaint with your employer. Make extra copies of your complaint after filing with the DFEH and EEOC. These records will provide tangible evidence that will strengthen your lawsuit.

Creating Safer Workplaces Nationwide Through Accountability

Workplace sexual harassment must be eradicated if we are ever to reach a culture of equity. At McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, our team of Racial & Economic Justice attorneys specialize in bringing case matters surrounding unfair treatment of a wide variety of protected classes. We can provide a compassionate ear and passionate representation through this difficult time.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact us today or call (909) 345-8110!

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