Filing a sexual harassment claim in Florida can be done directly through your employer or through the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If your employer refuses your claim or fails to take appropriate action, file with the FCHR or EEOC.
How Is Sexual Harassment Defined in Florida?
Florida acknowledges sexual harassment as illegal in the workplace and other areas. It occurs when a person makes inappropriate comments or jokes of a sexual nature or engages in physical conduct such as touching that is unwanted and makes another person or other people uncomfortable. This constitutes a hostile work environment.
How to Identify Sexual Harassment
If you suspect that you might be a victim of sexual harassment at work, it’s important to know how to identify conduct that constitutes such harassment. In some cases, it can be overt, but other times, it may be very subtle. Sexual harassment can happen through physical contact, sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors, sexually-tinged remarks or jokes, sharing explicit images, video or other content through electronic means, threats or promises for benefits in exchange for sexual contact or even a date – known as quid pro quo – and other unwanted and unwelcome physical or verbal conduct that causes discomfort.
Length of Time for Filing a Florida Sexual Harassment Claim
After experiencing sexual harassment in Florida, you should immediately report the situation to your supervisor. They will report the harassment to your employer so they can take the appropriate course of action. However, if your employer does nothing or tries to persuade you to drop your claim, you can file with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You have up to 365 days of the harassment to file with the FCHR and up to 300 days of the incident to file with the EEOC.
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What Are the Types of Sexual Harassment That Commonly Occur?
In Florida and elsewhere, certain types of sexual harassment are common. They include physical acts, requests for favors, unwelcome touching, unwanted verbal comments of a sexual nature, sexual jokes, quid pro quo harassment, unwanted sexual advances, showing content of a sexual nature and pressuring someone into a date or sexual activity to keep their job or for a promotion or raise.
What Are Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities in Florida?
You have legal rights and responsibilities in Florida regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. These are due to federal laws that protect employees against sexual harassment, state laws that govern sexual harassment and employer obligations regarding preventing and responding to complaints.
What Are the Federal Laws Against Sexual Harassment?
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. If an employee is subjected to such harassment and their employer does not take action to put a stop to it or appropriately deal with the individual perpetrating the harassment, the employer can be held liable. This is because employers are responsible for ensuring that the workplace is free of sexual harassment and other actions or behaviors that make it a hostile place.
What Are Florida’s Laws Against Sexual Harassment?
Florida’s laws acknowledge that sexual harassment is a type of discrimination and makes this conduct illegal in the workplace. Per the state laws, it is illegal for anyone to make unwanted sexual advances, request sexual favors, engage in physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature or promise someone something in return for sexual activity in the workplace. According to Florida’s Department of Management Services (DMS), any behavior or speech that is unwelcome and unwanted of a sexual nature that creates a hostile work environment is considered sexual harassment.
What Are Employers’ Obligations for Preventing and Responding to Sexual Harassment?
Employers are required to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. They should have a clear and concise explanation about what constitutes sexual harassment and stress that it’s illegal; this can be in the employee handbook or on a sign posted in common areas where everyone can see it. There should be language included that explains how employees can prevent sexual harassment or how to report it if they experience it or witness it.
If an employee makes a complaint about sexual harassment to their employer, the employer is obligated to respond appropriately. There should be a company policy on how sexual harassment is handled, and it must be carried out. The first step is to conduct an investigation into the matter through the human resources department. Next, both parties should be interviewed independently to get both sides of the story. If it’s determined that sexual harassment did, indeed, happen, the employer should take appropriate disciplinary measures. This can include terminating the person who perpetrated the harassment.
Florida Employers Covered By Sexual Harassment Laws
Florida’s sexual harassment laws pertain to certain employers. Public and private employers with 15 or more employees are covered and must have established policies to combat sexual harassment or deal with it if it occurs. State and local government agencies are also subject to these laws.
How Can You Handle a Florida Sexual Harassment Complaint?
If you are a Florida employee who has faced sexual harassment, you have the right to file a complaint. Always document everything as it happens so you don’t miss any details when you choose to file. Make note of the dates and times when incidents occur, and when you’re ready, submit your complaint to your supervisor so your employer can be notified.
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How Should You Document the Incident?
When documenting incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s crucial to create a record of each incident, gather evidence of those incidents and make note of any witnesses who may have been present when they happened.
How to Create a Record of the Incidents
Write down every instance of sexual harassment you experience. Include specific details and always date each incident. It’s best to jot everything down as soon as it happens so that you don’t miss anything important that you want to include in your complaint.
How to Gather Evidence of Each Incident
Gathering evidence of each instance of sexual harassment is crucial. This can include any correspondence such as emails, text messages and social media posts directed at you that are sexual in nature and unwanted and unwelcome. If the harasser has sent you explicit photos or videos, save them to use as evidence of sexual harassment. Creating an evidence package can benefit you when you file a claim through the FCHR or EEOC or with an attorney.
Don’t Forget About Witnesses
In the majority of instances of workplace sexual harassment, there are witnesses who saw or heard something. Make note of any and all witnesses who may have been present at the time of each incident. This can help your case if these employees are later asked to give their account of what happened.
Ways to Report Sexual Harassment to Your Employer
You have options when it comes to reporting instances of sexual harassment to your employer. One is to file a formal complaint with the company’s human resources department. The other involves filing an internal complaint with your employer. There is a set of guidelines you must follow when doing the latter.
Filing a Complaint with Human Resources
Most workplaces have a formal policy on how to handle sexual harassment. Regardless of whether your employer has one, if you have faced harassment, you can file a complaint directly with human resources. This can be done in person, but you can also file by providing a letter to the department.
Filing with Your Employer
Another option is to speak with your direct supervisor or manager about the harassment you have faced. Preparing a document to present to them is wise; your supervisor can ensure that your employer receives the complaint. An internal complaint should always be made in writing because it leaves less room for error.
When to Speak with a Florida Personal Injury and Employment Lawyer
If your employer refuses to take action for the sexual harassment you have experienced, the next step you should take is to speak with a Florida personal injury and employment lawyer. An attorney can help you prepare a claim directly against your employer; employers can be held liable if an employee faces sexual harassment on the job and the employer fails to take action.
What Are the Benefits of Working with an Attorney?
Working with an attorney to initiate a sexual harassment claim carries benefits. You can have your rights protected and receive valuable legal advice on the best way to proceed with your case. An attorney knows how to handle all the details of your claim and can ensure that you get the most compensation for your damages. They will help you hold your employer accountable for allowing harassment in the workplace and not taking proper action against the harasser.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I File a Harassment Complaint in Florida?
You can file a sexual harassment complaint in Florida by filing a claim directly with your employer or with the FCHR or EEOC if your employer denies your claim. You can also file a lawsuit against your employer for allowing the sexual harassment after consulting with an attorney.
What Qualifies as a Harassment Charge in Florida?
In Florida, any unwanted, unwelcome conduct or speech of a sexual nature qualifies as sexual harassment. Examples include inappropriate touching, requests for sexual favors, quid pro quo harassment, inappropriate comments or jokes and promises or threats to coerce an employee into sexual activity. Whatever the case, sexual harassment makes for a hostile work environment.
How Do I Prove Harassment in Florida?
You can prove harassment in Florida by documenting everything as soon as possible after it happens. Make note of the time, date and details of what occurred. Be sure to also include the names of potential witnesses who might have overheard and seen the incident. Keep all written correspondence that includes harassment such as physical notes or papers, emails and other electronic means of communication that are unwanted and sexual in nature.
Can You Press Charges for Harassment in Florida?
You can press charges for harassment in Florida if the harasser pushes their behavior to stalking or assault. These actions cross the line from civil to criminal.
Can You Record Someone Harassing You in Florida?
Unfortunately, if you face sexual harassment in the workplace in Florida, you can only record someone harassing you if there is a two-way agreement to the recording. This means that the harasser would have to know you wish to record them and consent to it.
Can You Sue Someone for Harassment in Florida?
If someone is sexually harassing you in the workplace in Florida, you can sue them if they begin stalking you or if they sexually assault you.
What Is Not Considered Harassment?
Making a simple compliment on a person’s appearance is not considered harassment unless it involves mention of a specific body part or has sexual undertones. It’s also not considered harassment if an employee is disciplined or demoted based on negative actions or negative performance.
Is Verbal Harassment a Crime in Florida?
In Florida, verbal harassment may be considered a crime if it involves threats of violence that instill fear in a victim.
What Is Considered Intimidation in Florida?
In Florida, intimidation is any conduct directed at a person that strikes fear in that person.
Is Text Harassment a Crime in Florida?
Text harassment is a crime in Florida when a person continuously and persistently sends unwanted texts to another person even after being told to stop. This is considered cyberstalking, which is illegal.
What Is Needed to Identify Harassment?
To identify harassment, it must be established that a person is being harassed based on their race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy status, age, genetic information or disability. Harassment includes abuse, threats, unwanted touching or verbal remarks or stalking.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Harassment in Florida?
In Florida, if you are filing a sexual harassment claim with the FCHR, you must do so within one year from the date of the incident.
Filing Harassment Charges in Florida
You can file harassment charges in Florida with the FCHR, the EEOC or through the court system with the help of a lawyer.
Florida Harassment Laws in the Workplace
Florida has laws against sexual harassment in the workplace. The two forms that exist are hostile work environment and quid pro quo. It is illegal to make unwanted sexual advances, sexual comments or jokes, requests for sexual favors, make physical contact that is unwanted and unwelcome and create an environment that makes employees uncomfortable or fearful.
Can You Go to Jail for Sexually Harassing Someone?
A person can go to jail for sexually harassing someone if their conduct escalates to criminal activity such as stalking, threats of sexual violence or sexual assault.