A sexual harassment lawyer in Jackson County, Missouri will often find themselves guiding individuals through the painful dilemma of workplace sexual harassment. You should know that if your employer fails to take action after sexual harassment has occurred, you still have various options to secure justice. 

Ask a Sexual Harassment Lawyer: What Are My Options if an Employer Fails to Take Action After Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment can manifest in many forms, and even seemingly minor incidents can escalate, affecting the mental, emotional, and professional wellbeing of the victims.

Federal law, as well as Missouri state law, considers such behaviors unacceptable and actionable, and the burden is on employers to protect their employees from this type of environment. But what happens when employers, the first line of defense, fail to act?

Initiating a Formal Complaint: Reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

When your employer fails to address your concerns, turning to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a feasible next step. The EEOC enforces federal laws against workplace harassment, ensuring companies provide a safe, equitable environment for their employees. By lodging a complaint with the EEOC, you initiate a process that might lead to mediation, an investigation, or a lawsuit against the employer.

State-Level Redress: The Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR)

In addition to the EEOC, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) handles complaints related to workplace sexual harassment. The MCHR enforces the Missouri Human Rights Act, which also prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. By filing a complaint with the MCHR, you again initiate an investigation into the matter. If the MCHR finds evidence supporting your claims, they might opt for mediation or conciliation.

If your efforts through these agencies do not result in a satisfactory outcome, either can issue a right-to-sue letter, permitting you to file a lawsuit against your employer.

Finding the Right Legal Support: Hiring an Attorney

Never underestimate the importance of legal representation during this challenging period, even if you are working with the EEOC or the MCHR. An experienced attorney can guide you through the complex procedures involved in making complaints, help you collect the necessary evidence, and represent your best interests.

Lawyers can also keep you in compliance with crucial deadlines, such as the 180-day limit to file a complaint with the EEOC following the incident of harassment. This timeframe can extend to 300 days if a state or local agency also enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis: which Missouri does.

Building a Case

Building a robust case depends on the quality and quantity of evidence available. It’s crucial to document every detail of the incidents, including dates, times, locations, what was said or done, and if there were any witnesses. If there’s a pattern of harassment, this should be evident in the documentation.

Besides incidents, it’s advisable to record all steps you’ve taken to report the harassment and all responses (or lack thereof) that you’ve had from your employer, including emails, formal letters, or any other forms of communication. This information can significantly strengthen your case.


In some cases, after filing a complaint with the EEOC or MCHR, a settlement may be reached without the need for a lawsuit. A settlement involves the accused party agreeing to meet certain conditions, often including monetary compensation to the victim, in exchange for the victim dropping the complaint.

While this can provide a quicker resolution than going to trial, it’s important to carefully consider any settlement offer with your attorney. Their professional guidance can help ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.

Exploring Civil Litigation

If the EEOC or MCHR investigations don’t yield satisfactory results, there’s another avenue open to victims of workplace sexual harassment: civil litigation. With the right-to-sue letter from the EEOC or MCHR, you can decide to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. While the process might be lengthy, civil litigation can potentially lead to more substantial damages and compensation. Civil litigation often requires meticulous preparation, compelling evidence, and proficient legal representation.

Filing the Complaint

The initial step in the civil litigation process involves drafting and filing a complaint in the appropriate court. This document lays out your allegations against the employer and your demand for relief, often in the form of monetary damages. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant (your employer) is served with a copy and given a chance to respond.


Following the response from the defendant, the case proceeds to the discovery stage. This phase allows both sides to exchange information related to the lawsuit. For you, this may involve providing documents, answering written questions (interrogatories), or giving oral testimony under oath (depositions) about the harassment and your employer’s response. Your attorney will assist you in preparing for this stage and representing your interests.

Pre-Trial and Settlement Negotiations

While the lawsuit is in progress, settlement negotiations can occur at any time. These negotiations involve discussions between your attorney and the defendant’s legal counsel to reach an agreement without going to court. Many cases are resolved at this stage without proceeding to trial.


If a settlement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial. Both sides present their evidence and arguments, and a judge or jury makes the final decision. In the case of a jury trial, the jury will decide whether the defendant is liable and, if so, how much in damages they should pay.

The importance of having experienced legal counsel by your side through all of this can’t be overstated. An attorney can guide you through each step, ensuring your best interests are represented throughout the case.

Watch Out for Retaliation

It’s not uncommon for victims of sexual harassment to face retaliation from their employers once they decide to act against the harassment. Retaliation can take many forms: unjust demotions, unfair disciplinary actions, sudden exclusion from important projects, or even wrongful termination.

Importantly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from employer retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. In fact, you cannot be retaliated against even if the government and courts ultimately decide that no harassment took place. So long as you made a complaint in good faith, you are protected against retaliation. Retaliation is a separate violation that you can report and for which you can receive compensation.

Don’t Neglect Your Personal Well-being

While fighting against sexual harassment is imperative, taking care of your mental and emotional health throughout this taxing process is equally significant. It may be beneficial to seek professional support from therapists or counselors as you go through this process.

Remember, this challenging situation is not a reflection of your professional capabilities or personal worth. You have the right to a safe, respectful workplace, and standing up against harassment only underscores your strength and resilience.

Moving Forward in Jackson County, Missouri

When employers neglect their responsibility to address such issues, it’s vital to know that options exist to pursue justice. At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we are committed to providing top-tier legal support in these difficult circumstances. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, remember: you are not alone. Reach out to Holman Schiavone, LLC for a free consultation today.