When Can You Sue for Workplace Harassment?

Woman working at her laptop wonders when can you sue for workplace harassment.

Harassment at work can make life difficult, to say the least. If a supervisor, coworker, or even an outside vendor is making inappropriate comments or attempting to sabotage your work, it may be time to consider taking action.

When can you sue for workplace harassment? If you are currently experiencing harassment based on your gender (i.e., sexual harassment), your race, or other personal characteristics protected by law, you can potentially pursue an employment lawsuit today.

You may have a viable case even if you already left a job because of unbearable harassment. Depending on the type of case, you have 300 days to two years to file a Florida lawsuit against the employer.  If you believe you may have a harassment claim, it is best to speak to an employment law attorney as soon as possible.

Workplace Harassment and the Law

Title VII laws make it illegal to discriminate against an employee for race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age (40+), disability or genetic information. These and Department of Labor laws protect you from discrimination-based harassment, as well as from harassment as a form of retaliation. Whistleblower laws are meant to discourage harassment after you have put in a complaint about unlawful treatment at work.

In Florida, laws prohibiting harassment at work apply to all employers with at least 15 employees.

 

Types of Harassment

Discriminative or retaliatory acts often involve aggressive, ongoing harassment that creates a hostile work environment for the victim(s). Illegal harassment can take many forms, and may involve:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Degrading comments
  • Display of offensive photos/artwork
  • Insults and put-downs
  • Racial slurs
  • Unwarranted accusations and negative performance reviews
  • Damaging gossip
  • Denied perks or compensation offered to other employees
  • Physical or sexual assault.

If an employee is made to feel that his or her job or promotion depends upon provision of sexual favors, this is an additional form of harassment, known as quid pro quo.

Importance of Timing

Because statute of limitations deadlines apply, it is important to avoid waiting too long to find out whether you have a workplace harassment case. Employment law attorneys have seen a significant rise in sexual harassment claims since the #MeToo movement began, but many come too late to allow for legal compensation. A recent Washington Post article discussed the experience of many #MeToo victims who have been frustrated by expired statute of limitations dates.

The Florida deadline for a Title VII harassment claim is one year, or 300 days if it is a federal court case. If you were harassed as a form of retaliation for whistleblowing, the Florida statute of limitations is two years.

When Can You Sue for Workplace Harassment?

The best time to sue for workplace harassment is while you are still employed or soon after you have been terminated. If you felt forced to leave your job because of relentless harassment, this may be “constructive termination,” a legal term that covers this type of scenario. In this case, you may have a wrongful termination suit in addition to discrimination and harassment claims.

Speaking out publically against unlawful treatment can be satisfying, but if you have been personally wronged, you should be compensated.  If you are the victim of workplace harassment, don’t hesitate to contact Feldman Williams today.