Is there a time limit on reporting sexual harassment?

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Is there a time limit on reporting sexual harassment?

Is there a time limit on reporting acts of sexual harassment in the workplace? If so, what is it? Is someone looking over the dividers in the restroom at you, looking downward to your privates area, and then smiling at you considered sexual harassment?

Asked on December 17, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is a 180-day statute of limitations to file a report or complaint of sexual harassment against your employer with the appropriate agency (e.g. the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC; or any state equal/civil rights agency); if you fail to do so, you could lose your right to proceed. There are some circumstances in which the SOL may be extended to 300 days, e.g. for some larger companies, but if possible, file within 180 days; if not, as long as you are within 300 days, you should still try to file, since you may fall under the longer period.
The fact that dividers are regulation height does not mean that this was not harassment or that the employer does not have to take action: all it means is that if they do act appropriately  (e.g. investigate then, if the investigation substantiates the action, take appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination, against the offender), the employer would have complied with its obligation and not engaged in illegal sex-based harassment or discrimination. But a failure to look into a complaint like this can, by the employer's inaction, make  them liable for allowing the conduct.
 


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