Attorney at Law

How to Sue for Sexual Harassment

There are laws in place in the United States making it illegal for people to carry out sexual harassment in the workplace or an educational institution. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment of this kind, you have the right to take legal action against the perpetrator and potentially the institution where it happened. In this guide, we explain the steps you should take if you want to sue for sexual harassment.

1. Know the Definition of Sexual Harassment 

Sometimes it can be tricky to know what kind of behavior is legally defined as sexual harassment and what is not. Knowing the exact definition of sexual harassment can help you understand whether or not you may have grounds for a lawsuit. 

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating hostile or sexually offensive work environment.”

To that end, acts that count as sexual harassment include:

  • Staring or leering
  • Displaying images of a sexual nature
  • Accessing sexually explicit internet sites in front of others
  • Making suggestive comments or jokes
  • Incessantly requesting to go out on a date even after the individual says no
  • Messaging emailing sexually explicit imagery or comments
  • Any form of unwelcome touching
  • Asking intrusive questions or conversations about another person’s body or private life
  • Insults or taunts of a sexual nature
  • Asking for sexual favors

2. Speak to the Offender

While it can be difficult, speaking to the person who is harassing can help serve as a form of evidence in a lawsuit. In order to win a sexual harassment lawsuit, you must be able to prove that the perpetrator’s behavior was unwelcome, and one way to do so is to make it clear that you are offended by the behavior and ask for it to stop. Having this communication in writing will be especially helpful. 

Note that if you feel unsafe speaking to or raising this issue with the perpetrator, you do not have to do. Your safety is the most important priority. 

3. Make a Complaint to the Organization

It is likely that the workplace or educational institution where the sexual harassment took place has policies and procedures in place for how you can make a harassment complaint. In order to be able to hold the institution liable in a sexual harassment case, you must be able to prove that they knew about and had an opportunity to remedy the harassment. If you make an official complaint following the stated policies and the institution fails to take the proper action, or retaliates against you in some way for complaining, they can be held legally liable. 

4. File an Administrative Charge

Under federal law, you must first file an administrative charge with the EEOC or a similar state agency before you can bring a harassment lawsuit. If you fail to take this step, your lawsuit will be thrown out. Many states require victims to file an administrative complaint with their fair employment practices agency before filing a lawsuit, as well. 

The EEOC requires you to file an administrative charge within 180 days of the most recent instance of sexual harassment. States also have their own specific deadlines for filing charges with their agencies. 

After you file a charge, the EEOC will notify your employer and either dismiss, investigate, request mediation, or take another action. It is very rare for the EEOC to file a lawsuit on victims’ behalf, so it’s likely that you will instead receive a “right to sue” letter. With this letter in hand, you can file a lawsuit. 

5. Retain a Lawyer and File a Lawsuit

Your next step will be to actually file your sexual harassment lawsuit. It is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to help you do so. They will be able to help with a number of important things including:

  • Determining the deadlines that apply to your lawsuit
  • Assessing the strength of your claim
  • Knowing where and when to file your lawsuit
  • Correctly filing your lawsuit 

In fact, it may even be a good idea to hire a lawyer before this stage, as they can also help with drafting your administrative charge and helping you communicate with the institution. 

Find and contact a sexual harassment lawyer today for a free review of your case.

Ask a Lawyer

Ask your own question and get advice from expert attorneys
Ask Question

Featured Sexual Assault Lawyers

Law Office of Salvatore Ciulla

38 years in practice
Criminal Defense, Domestic Violence, DUI Law, Sexual Assault
View Profile

Horn Wright, LLP

28 years in practice
Employment Law, Personal Injury, Sexual Assault
View Profile

The Law Firm of Frank Stanley, PC

45 years in practice
Criminal Defense, Sexual Assault
View Profile

RYTELAW-Payman Bafekr, Esq.

1 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bad Faith Insurance, Bicycle Accidents, Contract Law, Insurance Law
View Profile

Issa Law, LLC

13 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Criminal Defense, DUI Law, Motorcycle Accidents
View Profile

Law Office of Tal Rubin, PC

22 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Personal Injury
View Profile


Are you looking for an attorney? Do you have questions about a legal case you are facing? Contact us now and we will put you in touch with a lawyer for free.

Related Posts

Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram