When Do I Need a Sexual Harassment Lawyer?
You can benefit from the advice of a lawyer if you have experienced sexual harassment at work, even if you don’t plan to start a lawsuit. A lawyer will evaluate your case, explain your options, and provide advice.
One of the most important reasons to hire a sexual harassment lawyer is to help you understand if what you have experienced is really illegal sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct related to or based on sex. Some examples include:
- Telling sexist jokes or making sexist comments
- Requesting sexual favors
- Talking about your appearance or sex life
- Making lewd jokes
- Unwanted touching
You may try to resolve a situation like this without a lawyer, but there are good reasons to have an advocate on your side. It’s especially important to contact a lawyer specializing in sexual harassment in these situations:
- You have tried to resolve the problem but are still being harassed.
- You reported the incident to your supervisors or human resources, and they did not take you seriously or take any steps to help.
- Your union representative has been unwilling or unable to help you get the harassment stopped.
- You have lost your job or been passed over for a promotion because of harassment.
- You have been penalized or retaliated against in some way for reporting harassment.
- You have lost income or been physically or mentally harmed by the harassment.
How Can a Sexual Harassment Lawyer Help Me?
A lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment has knowledge of the applicable laws, both federal and state. They know what constitutes sexual harassment and can provide you with information, and explanation of your rights, options, and guidance.
When you hire a sexual harassment lawyer, they do the following for you:
- Identify harassment.
Not every offhand comment or inappropriate behavior in the workplace constitutes illegal sexual harassment. A lawyer with experience in these cases can look at your situation and explain whether it is harassment or not, so you can take the next appropriate step.
- Provide expert advice.
There is more than one way to approach a sexual harassment situation. Based on the details you provide, your lawyer will advise you on the best option or next step.
- Work with your employer.
If you want to resolve the situation as quickly as possible but don’t feel comfortable representing yourself, a lawyer can work with your employer on your behalf. They may be able to resolve the situation this way and get a settlement if appropriate.
- File with the EEOC.
In most situations, before you can sue your employer over harassment, you must file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- File a lawsuit.
If the EEOC issues you a Notice of Right to Sue, your lawyer will take all the necessary steps to begin and follow through with a lawsuit.
- Determine and recover damages.
Some cases of sexual harassment caused real harm, including physical and mental health issues as well as lost wages or benefits. Your lawyer will determine how the incident has affected you and what you may be owed.
How to Find a Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Search for a lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment in the workplace. You may be able to find one through a referral from someone you know and trust. Also try local advocacy groups that help victims of discrimination. They may be able to refer you to a lawyer with the right experience.
Most lawyers offer free initial consultations. This allows you to meet with a few firms or attorneys to ask questions, get advice, and make a decision about hiring someone. Look for important characteristics before settling on a firm or an individual lawyer. They should:
- Have specific experience helping victims of sexual harassment
- Have references from past clients
- Be able to give you a reasonable estimate about the strength of your case, what you can expect for an outcome, and any damages
- Be able to negotiate or litigate, as the case requires
- Be easy to get in contact with and able to answer your questions
- Have the resources to investigate your case
- Have a contingency fee payment plan or reasonable fees you feel comfortable with
Work with Your Lawyer for the Best Outcome
Once you have a lawyer, your work is not yet done. This is a partnership, and you will get the best outcome if you work together and provide your lawyer with all the information they need to prove your case.
Your lawyer will need as much information as you can recall about the incidents of harassment. Provide any actual documentation you have as well, such as emails, texts, or reports you filed. Communications you had with HR or a supervisor about the situation are also helpful.
Be sure that you are completely honest with your lawyer so they can best help you. It can be embarrassing to talk about sexual harassment, and you may feel ashamed or as if you encouraged the behavior. Keep in mind that your lawyer is on your side and cannot share information without your permission.
A sexual harassment lawyer is an essential advocate for employees suffering because of workplace harassment and abuse. Find the right lawyer to help you stop the harassment and get any remedies you’re owed.