Before you file the claim, educate yourself to insure that the incident actually counts as harassment. Unlawful harassment includes any incident that interferes with your success at work, or creates a hostile work environment. A complaint that doesn't necessarily count as illegal workplace harassment will generate unnecessary stress, legal costs, and damaged relationships, so it's a good idea to do your research before you file the complaint.
Keep Detailed Records
It's also important to keep a written record of the time and date of the incident, including the individuals involved, the place the harassment occurred, and other details that pertain to the incident. Keeping accurate, detailed records will help your supervise conduct an investigation of the incident, and will also help when it comes to actually filing your claim.
File the Claim as Soon as Possible
Remember to file the harassment claim as soon as possible. After the incident occurs, you only have 180 days to file the claim with the EEOC. You can file the claim by mail, in person, or you can call toll-free at 800-669-4000. Be prepared to provide your name, address, telephone number, and detailed information about your workplace and your employer. Also, be ready to talk about the harassment you faced and the discrimination that may have been a result of it. Give as much detailed information as possible.
After the EEOC have received your claim, they will conduct an investigation of the incident. This may include contacting witnesses, interviewing coworkers, and speaking with your employer. The EEOC might also visit your workplace or request documents associated with the incident.
Once your file your claim, keep in mind that your employer is legally prohibited from punishing you for filing your claim - they cannot fire you, lay you off, or demote you for cooperating with an EEOC investigation or filing a claim.
When to Contact a Lawyer
If you experience a delay in your case and the EEOC is unable to solve the problem within 6 months, you will be given the "right-to-sue" and will have 3 months to file a lawsuit. In this situation, it is advisable to contact a lawyer. Also, if you feel like your case isn't being handled properly or that your employer is discriminating against you because you filed the complaint, it's a good idea to contact a lawyer for further advice.
While filing a harassment claim can be stressful for all parties involved, the EEOC works to make sure that claims are settled fairly. In preparation for filing a claim, just remember to keep these tips in mind:
- Do your research, and make sure the incident counts as unlawful harassment.
- File the claim as soon as possible.
- Keep detailed, accurate records of the event.
- Cooperate fully with the EEOC investigation.
- Contact a lawyer if you feel like your case is being handled inappropriately or if you experience further discrimination because you filed for the claim.