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In most civil cases, including personal injury or negligence claims, anyone can file a lawsuit in court at any time.
Congress also placed a strict time frame on when employees can file job discrimination complaints with the EEOC: no later than 300 days after the alleged discrimination happened.
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One reason women are accusing men of sexual harassment in the press, rather than the courts: The legal system that’s supposed to investigate, address, and prevent sexual harassment has failed them for decades.
Employees who think their employer has discriminated against them — including through sexual harassment, which is legally considered sex-based discrimination — have to start by filing a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal civil rights laws.
Requiring people to go through an administrative agency before filing a lawsuit is highly unusual.
This is highly unusual in the world of federal litigation, “exceeding the negative outcomes faced by other litigants in both scope and degree,” she wrote in a 2011 article.
In other words, the odds are stacked against victims of discrimination more than victims of medical malpractice or consumer fraud, for example.
About half the time, investigators are unable to determine if an employer engaged in sexual harassment, and the EEOC notifies workers that they can sue their employer in court.
This is open to interpretation, because there is no definition as to what makes harassment (like groping and sexual requests) severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.
Instead, juries and judges are supposed to consider how often the behavior happened, whether it was physical or verbal, whether the perpetrator was a supervisor, whether more than one person participated, and whether a reasonable person would view the behavior as offensive.
The details of these cases are never made public, unless an employee decides to sue in federal court.
And their chances of any success in court are slim.