How to File for Harassment in the Workplace

by Timothea Xi; Updated September 26, 2017
Harassment at work

Workplace harassment, as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is unwelcome conduct based on a person's race, age, gender, religion, disability or national origin. When the conduct becomes a continual condition of employment and is pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment, such harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. You can take action against threats, slurs and assaults in this vein by filing a harassment charge.

EEOC and FEPAs

To file a charge of harassment with the EEOC, you must file the charge before filing a job discrimination charge against your employer and observe time limits. The latter varies but generally is 180 calendar days. Alternately, you can file with a state or local Fair Employment Practices Agency, in which case you'll be automatically dual-filed with the EEOC, so you do not need to file with both.

While the EEOC does not accept charges over the phone or online, you can begin the process by filling out an intake questionnaire online or speaking with an EEOC representative by calling 1-800-669-4000.

Filing a Complaint in Person

You have to go to an EEOC field office or post office to file the actual complaint. The EEOC suggests calling the field office nearest to you and asking it about its specific walk-in procedure. Bring any pertinent papers to the meeting, in support of your harassment charge. These can include termination notices, performance reviews and the names and contact information of individuals who may have further details about specific incidents. You can bring an attorney with you, although you are not required to hire one.

Filing by Mail

If you file your harassment claim by mail, submit a signed letter containing your name and contact information -- as well as that of your employer and/or the persons you wish to file the charge against -- and details of the harassment incident, including when it occurred and why you think it occurred. The EEOC may follow up and ask for further clarification and confirmation of your claim.

Taking a Harassment Claim to Court

If the EEOC investigates the claim and finds no violation of the law, it will give you a Notice of Right to Sue. You would then be able to file a suit in a court of law. When the EEOC does find fault and attempts to reach a settlement with your employer but cannot, its legal team or the Department of Justice will determine whether or not to file a suit against your employer.

National Labor Relations Board

Another possible recourse for filing a harassment claim may be through the National Labor Relations Board. If you experience threats or unlawful disciplinary actions as a result of unionizing and believe your employee rights have been violated under Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act, download a charge form, i.e. "Charge Against Employer" and contact the nearest NLRB regional office to initiate the process. Board agents will investigate the charge and a regional director will make a decision on its merits, usually within 7 to 12 weeks, Your charge can be settled, withdrawn or dismissed.

About the Author

Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.

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