Can I Sue My Boss for Sexual Harassment?

Manager putting his hand on the shoulder of his secretary, at the office. Concept of sexual harassment.

State and federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. The laws protect employees from unwelcomed and unwanted sexual advances and demands and from a hostile work environment. In addition to administrative remedies provided by those laws, an employee harmed by sexual harassment may be able to recover damages in a civil court action. The sexual harassment attorney at Sloan Law Firm assists employees who have such claims against their employers.

Kansas Laws on Workplace Sexual Harassment

Both federal law and Kansas state law prohibit workplace sexual harassment. The state law covers smaller-sized employers that the federal law does not.

The Kansas Act Against Discrimination prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. The law applies to all public employers and to private employers with four or more employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is a federal law, also prohibits workplace sexual harassment. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

For a worker covered by both state and federal laws, a sexual harassment claim may be filed with the Kansas Human rights Commission (KHRC) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have a work-sharing and file-sharing arrangement, so they cooperate with each other in processing claims. Filing two claims is not necessary, if you inform the agency where you file that you wish to have the claim cross-filed with the other agency. Workers for employers with between four and 14 employees must file with the KHRC, as the EEOC does not have jurisdiction over those employers.

Strict time limits apply to filing sexual harassment claims with the KHRC and EEOC. A claim must be filed with the KRHC within 180 days of the date the sexual harassment conduct occurred. An EEOC claim must be filed within 300 days of the incident that underlies the claim.

While you can pursue an administrative claim for a sexual harassment claim without assistance from a lawyer, you may benefit substantially from consulting with an employment law attorney if you have a workplace sexual harassment complaint. In some circumstances, you may be able to file a civil court action for damages and attorney’s fees. Talking with a lawyer ensures that you have the option to consider all available remedies and that you do not pass any deadlines that apply to filing a claim or court action.

What Constitutes Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment occurs in many different forms. The victim and harasser can be any gender and can both be the same gender. The harasser may be the victim’s employer, supervisor, co-worker, or a non-employee, like a client or customer.

Under Kansas law, sexual harassment includes:

  • Direct sexual conduct through unwanted sexual advances
  • Quid pro quo harassment, which occurs when employment advances or benefits are offered in exchange for sexual favors
  • Creation of a hostile work environment

This may include unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct. However, harassment may include offensive remarks about a person’s sex or gender. The conduct may constitute sexual harassment when it explicitly or implicitly affects a person’s employment, unreasonably interferes with work performance, or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.

Creation of a hostile work environment is the most common type of sexual harassment. To establish a hostile environment, the laws generally require a level of conduct that is severe or pervasive that it affects the employee’s working conditions.

Pursuing a Sexual Harassment Complaint

Employers have the responsibility to provide a workplace free of sexual harassment. Every employer should have an internal system for reporting sexual harassment. The process is often handled by the human resources department. If you report the conduct and your employer does nothing, you can pursue external administrative options through the Kansas Human Rights Commission or the federal Equal Opportunity Commission, or talk with an attorney about what options are available to you.

An employer cannot retaliate against an employee who reports sexual harassment. If fear of retaliation prevents you from pursuing internal reporting options, you should talk with an experienced employment attorney about your options for pursuing the complaint.

Regardless of how you decide to proceed, it’s important to document the incidents that constitute harassment by making notes or keeping a journal and saving any written evidence, including the dates and details about the nature of the conduct. It is advisable to record the information as soon as possible after the incidents occur. You should also get statements from any witnesses who saw or overheard the events.

No employee should tolerate any type of sexual harassment. If you are the victim of workplace sexual harassment, you have legal remedies. The best way to learn what options are available is to discuss your situation with an experienced employment law attorney. There are deadlines that apply to seeking remedies for sexual harassment, so you should not delay in pursuing a claim.

Schedule a Consultation with our Kansas Employment Law Attorneys

From our offices in Topeka and Lawrence, the experienced employment law attorneys at Sloan Law Firm assist clients throughout Kansas with workplace sexual harassment claims. We welcome you to contact us by calling (785) 357-6311 or using our online contact form.

Categories: Employment Issues