How Do I File a Sexual Harassment Complaint?

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  • Written By: Florence J. Tipton
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 June 2014
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Filing a sexual harassment complaint is typically based on where the harassing incident occurred. If you need to file a workplace sexual harassment complaint, you may want to review the grievance procedures typically found in the employee handbook. A school sexual harassment complaint will also follow formal grievance procedures. Recording details of the incident soon after it occurs may help to keep pertinent information fresh. Based on where you live, you might also have the option to file a complaint with a local government agency or court system.

A formal sexual harassment complaint usually includes the pertinent details surrounding the sexual harassment incident. The complaint should include the date, time, and location of the incident. You might also need to include the name of the person that you are accusing of sexual harassment. In filing a sexual harassment incident, you should make every attempt to provide specific facts about what happened. Adding statements beyond the facts could be perceived as false or speculative.

Most employee handbooks outline the procedures for filing a complaint if the sexual harassment incident occurred on the job. Typically, the first report is made to your supervisor — if he or she is not the source of the complaint. Company policy might require that you file the initial complaint with the human resources department even if your immediate supervisor is not directly involved.


Academic institutions could have several departments charged with handling a sexual harassment complaint based on your status as a student or employee. Some institutions may have a central contact in a campus relations or dean’s office for students to file a formal complaint. Faculty and staff might report sexual harassment complaints to the department head or to the human resources department.

The process may vary by jurisdiction, but you may want to file a sexual harassment compliant with a local or regional government agency. Usually, this option is available as an additional recourse if your employer or academic institution fails to remedy the situation. The procedure to file a sexual harassment complaint with a government agency may require the same information that was included in the complaint with your employer or school. Additional information may also include the steps that you took before contacting the agency.

In some cases, the procedure in the company policy or government agency does not resolve the matter. If this occurs, you may have the option to file a sexual harassment lawsuit with the court system. An experienced attorney will typically present the facts of your case in court. The information in the legal complaint is usually expected to align with the legal definition in your area that constitutes sexual harassment.


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