Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other forms of communication of a sexual nature. A few examples of sexual harassment include:
- The receipt of lewd images
- Comments about an employee's body parts
- The receipt of lewd text messages and emails
- Being called sexually derogatory names
- Other employees making comments of a sexual nature
Such comments and actions can create a "hostile work environment" and cause humiliation, psychological/physical stress and damage to a person's career. Sexual harassment can also take the form of quid pro quo ("this for that") harassment, which occurs when another employee demands sexual or romantic favors/relations as a condition for keeping one's job or gaining advancement.
In order to pursue your sexual harassment claim in Missouri's court system, the victim must comply with the administrative process mandated by Missouri law. Before filing a lawsuit, a harassed employee must file a Charge of Discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory or retaliatory act. The wronged employee usually has up to 300 days to file a charge seeking relief under Title VII by filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In most cases, a harassed employee should try to preserve his or her claims under both Missouri and federal law.
After filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and/or The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the employee will likely be eligible to receive a "Right to Sue" letter. A lawsuit must be filed within 90 days of the date on the Missouri Commission's letter and within 90 days of receipt of the EEOC's letter. The suit must also be filed within 2 years of the alleged discriminatory/harassing act. If suit is filed, and the employee prevails, he or she may be entitled to: 1) lost wages; 2) damages for mental and emotional distress; 3) attorneys' fees; 4) certain costs associated with litigation; and 5) punitive damages.
At Hall Ansley, we have achieved employment discrimination results by helping hundreds of employees through the process of preserving and pursuing their sexual harassment claims. Our attorneys have experience assisting employees; with making internal complaints to their employers; with filing the Charges of Discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and through the process of litigation up to, and including, trial.
One of the questions we frequently encounter is: I'm being harassed—what should I do?
The answer to the question is largely dependent on the facts of your situation. There are times when an employee is required to report the harassment in accordance with the company's sexual harassment policy. In other situations, an employee may be permitted to leave employment and claim that he or she was constructively discharged. If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment, it is important that you talk to someone with experience as quickly as possible.
We handle sexual harassment cases on a contingency fee basis, and we do not get paid unless our client wins. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.