An employer can defeat a sexual harassment complaint that is filed more than one year after the harassment occurred. However, the plaintiff can prevent such a defeat with proof that the employer's unlawful practice was a “continuing violation” so that the requirement to file a complaint was triggered by an act of harassment that occurred within one year of the complaint. The harassment is considered as “continuing to occur” as long as all of the following three conditions continue to exist:
- Conduct occurring within a year of the date on which the plaintiff filed her complaint was similar or related to the conduct that occurred earlier;
- The conduct was reasonably frequent; and
- The conduct had not yet become “permanent.”
"Permanent" in this context means that the conduct has stopped, the plaintiff has resigned, or the employer's statements and actions would make it clear to a reasonable employee that any further efforts to resolve the issue internally would be futile.
The burden is on the defendant to prove that the complaint was not filed on time.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin