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Is it possible to keep my sexual harassment complaint confidential?

Allegations surrounding sexual harassment can be a sensitive topic for both the alleged victim and the accused. In either case, the parties involved will want to keep the details of the claim confidential. The laws and regulations concerning sexual harassment do not provide the parties involved with privacy protections.  However, when a claim is initiated with the EEOC claimants are provided limited confidentiality rights aimed at protecting an employee from potential retaliation.

Internal Sexual Harassment Complaint

If a claim of sexual harassment if handled internally by an employer there are no laws that govern what is disclosed within the confines of an organization. However, if a claimant is promised confidentiality in lieu of either withdrawing their claim or resolving the issue without EEOC involvement question could arise as to whether this type of arrangement could be construed as illegally interfering with an employee’s legal rights. Further, questions could also be raised as to whether this type of conduct qualifies as a form of retaliation.

The Confidentiality of EEOC Complaints

To begin the process of filing a formal claim alleging sexual harassment, the claimant will file a formal complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) information regarding the claimant, the allegations and those who are alleged to have violated the law are provided to the agency. Given that the complaint and charging process requires a level of investigation and the ability for the respondent to provide their version of the facts, the respondent will be informed that a claim has been filed, basic information about claimant and the allegations. By law, the respondent must be notified within 10 days of a claim being filed against them.  However, during the process, the EEOC is required to not details concerning the claim to the public.

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