Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Oct 18, 2011

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If you report sexual harassment to your supervisor and s/he does nothing, then you may be able to sue the company you work for. The key will be to follow the proper channels for making an internal complaint, to keep detailed records of the harassment, and to take the right legal steps.

What basis do I have for taking legal action?

Anti-harassment laws are in place in the United States to protect individuals who are harassed due to their sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, and age. These are examples of “protected classes” as far as civil rights laws are concerned. If you are a member of a protected class and you are experiencing harassment at work, then you may have grounds to file a hostile work environment claim.

What is a “hostile work environment”?

A “hostile work environment” is one in which supervisors and co-workers create hostility or make rude or snide comments (harassment) due to your protected status. Harassment based on your sex, religion, race or any other protected status is illegal; thus, so is a hostile work environment. To ensure that your rights are protected, you should look through your company’s handbook or whatever manual contains your company’s harassment policy. Make sure you follow the guidelines and take the actions that the policy requires. If you have to complain to your supervisor in writing, do so. If you have to file a confidential complaint with your human resources department, do that as well. Keep detailed records of each and every instance of hostility or harassment. Record the date, time and exactly what occurred. This will all be helpful when it comes time to prove your case.

Getting Help

Once you have done these things, your next step is to get a lawyer. A qualified attorney can help you to file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and can also assist you in filing a civil harassment suit if it becomes necessary to do so.