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Filing a Harassment Complaint - State Law

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Sexual harassment can be un-welcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment. These acts can also rise to the level of sexual harassment when they unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance or create a hostile or offensive work environment. Some states have included sexual harassment to their anti-discrimination statutes, and they cover smaller employers not covered by federal law for sexual harassment claims. The following states have sexual harassment clauses in their anti-discrimination statutes:

Alabama

Complaints about sexual harassment, can be filed with the Secretary of Senate.

Alaska

Alaska Human Rights Law protects employees against retaliation for sexual harassment claims.

Arizona

If your workplace has between 1 and 14 employees and you have a sexual harassment claim, you can file your claim with the Arizona Civil Right Division.

California

Unlike federal law, coworkers who are not supervisors can be sued and held personally responsible for unlawful workplace harassment. There needs to be at least one or more employees to bring forth a harassment claim to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

District of Columbia

The D.C. Human Rights Law prohibits hostile work environments.

Florida

If your workplace has at least 15 to 20 employees a sexual harassment claim can be filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Hawai’i

Under the Hawai’i Employment Practices Act, an employer will be responsible for the acts of an employee for sexual harassment if the conduct was known by a supervisor or agent and no corrective measure were taken. An employer may also be responsible for a non-employee for acts of sexual harassment if the conduct was known and no immediate corrective action was taken. A lawsuit based on your sexual harassment state claim must be file within 2 years.

Illinois

The Illinois Human Rights Act covers some smaller employers not covered by federal law for sexual harassment, retaliation, and age claims only. Only one employee is needed for Illinois Department of Human Rights to investigate charges that allege sexual harassment.

Maine

The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits sex discrimination including harassment based on sex.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts state law makes employers strictly liable for what their supervisors do, so if you prove a case against a supervisor then the employer is automatically liable. However, with a co-worker who is not a supervisor (for example, in a hostile work environment harassment case), the employer has to have known about it and refused to do anything before they are liable.

Michigan

A discriminatory harassment claim can be filed with either with the state administrative agency, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Missouri

The Missouri Human Rights Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate and harass based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, physical/mental disability, age (between ages 40 and 69 only), and retaliation.

Nebraska

The Nebraska Fair Employment and Practices Act prohibits unwelcomed workplace harassment for entities with 15 or more employees.

Nevada

Sexual harassment is illegal under Nevada law.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual relations or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. When an employee is subjected to harassment based on his or her gender, this also creates an unlawful work environment for employees.

New York

The New York City Human Rights Law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate or sexually harass employees based on gender. An employee can bring a sexual harassment claim regardless of the number of employees.

North Dakota

The North Dakota Human Rights Act prohibit sex discrimination including harassment based on sex.

Oregon

Oregon law prohibit sex discrimination including harassment based on sex. Employers are also required to provide leave for employees preparing for and participating in protective order proceedings or other legal proceedings related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking.

Pennsylvania

Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, an employer is also responsible for the sexual harassment misconduct of its employees, in instances where the employer should have known about the conduct, unless it can show it took immediate and appropriate action to the resolve the situation.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island law recognizes sexual harassment as sex discrimination.

South Carolina

South Carolina Human Affairs Law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.

South Dakota

South Dakota’s Human Relations Act  makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate or harass on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex (includes pregnancy), ancestry, disability or national origin.

Texas

Texas law prohibits discrimination based on sex including sexual harassment.

Utah

Utah Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on sex including sexual harassment.

Vermont

Vermont Fair Employment and Practices Act covers employees of any size, and prohibits employment agreements from containing provision that waive an employee’s rights or remedies for sexual harassment claims.

Washington

Senate bill 6471 introduced to add sexual harassment to the anti-discrimination state statute.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Human Rights Act  makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate or harass on the basis of race, sex, age (40 years old and up), disability, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, blindness and/or disability.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate or harass on the basis of age, race, creed, color, disability, marital status, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, arrest record, conviction record, membership in the national guard, state defense force or any other reserve component of the military forces, declining to attend a meeting or participate in any discussion regarding political or political matters that substantially and adversely affect the general welfare of the state or use or nonuse of lawful products off the employer's premises during nonworking hours.

O'Malley & Madden Weekly Weekly

Topic of the Week

Racial Harassment

Under federal law it is illegal to harass a person in any aspect of employment because of that person’s race or color. Harassment can include racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race or color, or the display of racia

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Regardless of which side of the political fence you sit on, we can all agree that employees deserve and need a safe work environment. It’s the company’s moral obligation and legal responsibility to provide a safe environment for all of its employees. But what’s the best way to do that?

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"It is essential that we shine a light on the immense contributions of black Americans in politics, business, art, science, and civic life. But if we just celebrate, we’re ignoring the harder truth that racism continues to hold black professionals back from leadership roles in corporate America. Workplace racism can end only when employees who are not black see, hear, and accept the truth about what their black colleagues have experienced and continue to experience. Black History Month is a great opportunity to begin this process."

–Trudy Bourgeois and Julia Taylor Kennedy

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  • While 65% of black professionals say that black employees must work harder to advance in their careers.

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