Sexual harassment for South Carolina employees is an all-too-common experience for the average worker. Of the 60,000+ charges that employees filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) nationwide in 2021, approximately 1/3 were for harassment/discrimination based on sex. This number, of course, only represents the instances of harassment that result in a formal charge. Many employees do not ever report the harassment because of the fear of retaliation, which is quite reasonable given that the EEOC also processed 30,000 charges in 2021 related to–you guessed it!–retaliation. Often employees will simply leave and look for another job, just to avoid the embarrassment and fear that often accompanies complaints to HR or management.
Sexual harassment, as I’ve discussed before, can come in the form of sexual jokes, sexual comments, and inappropriate comments about an employee’s appearance. Other more serious forms of harassment include unwanted touching or groping, unwanted sharing of nude pictures, and other sexually charged behavior. These types of illegal behavior can cause the victim to deal with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, anxiety, and depression.
It’s important for South Carolina employees to report the sexual harassment promptly to HR or management. I recommend that complaints be submitted in writing, preferably from your personal email account, so that there is a record of the report. Companies can (and often do) deny that an employee made any complaints at all, unless there’s written proof otherwise.
I also recommend that the harassed employee collect evidence where possible. Screenshots of text messages and copies of emails containing the harassment or the employee’s reports can be strong and compelling proof of the sexual harassment for South Carolina employees. If the harassment is over time, it’s often helpful to keep a written log with dates and details about the instances of harassment, to aid with memory later. Keep that log or notebook at home, not at work, in case you get terminated abruptly (see comments about retaliation above) and don’t have time to retrieve it.
If HR and management will not resolve the complaint (or if HR and management ARE the harassers), then you can contact the EEOC directly to file a charge of discrimination. However, it often takes several months to get an appointment/interview with the EEOC (at least in SC currently). A South Carolina employment lawyer can get the charge filed much quicker and can help you interact with or negotiate with your employer as needed.
If you have any questions or want to discuss the specifics of your case, please feel free to contact our office.