Workplace Sexual Harassment
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Your caring and trusted advocate for workplace sexual harassment
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What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment at work is a serious issue that often requires the help of an employment lawyer. Sexual assault is never okay. When it happens in the workplace, especially if it involves a supervisor or boss, it can result in complicated relationships and loss of work for employees. Sexual harassment defies the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, meaning it is grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit with the employer. Title VII covers employers with at least 15 employees, including state and local governments and parts of the federal government.
Sexual harassment is defined as requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment at work occurs when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment by the employer.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an employee is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such employees.
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment attorneys can help you build a case. Anyone who has experienced unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or a hostile work environment knows how uncomfortable it can be. Instances of sexual assault can be grounds for a claim or lawsuit against your employer. Alternatively, sex discrimination can also be cause for action. If you have been treated differently because of your sex, contact an employment lawyer today to help build your discrimination case.
Generally speaking, harassment conduct is not illegal if it is only offhand jokes, comments, or other petty behavior that is not intended to harm another employee. However, assaults, threats, and insensitive displays of pictures and offensive jokes could be considered sexual harassment in the workplace when they interfere with a person’s job performance. Typically, sexual harassment is a series of repeated acts. But, isolated incidents can occur as well. Both men and women can be targets, though the majority of cases unfortunately affect women. The perpetrator could be a fellow coworker, boss, supervisor, or even a non-employee.
For an act to be considered sexual harassment under the law, it has to include two elements:
- It has to involve either unwanted sexual advances or another unwelcome conduct that happens because of the victim’s sex or gender.
- The behavior has to cause either a “tangible personnel action,” including hiring, firing, demotion, change in pay, or another response to the employee’s refusal to submit to the conduct, or the behavior must be so severe that it changes the victim’s working conditions, making the work environment hostile.
If your sexual harassment case meets both of the requirements above, it could be grounds for a sexual harassment claim. A workplace sexual harassment lawyer can help you determine what kind of legal grounds you have and help you make the best decision for your unique situation. If you’ve been sexually harassed in the workplace, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Henry Law Firm for help, especially in dealing with your employer.
Types of Workplace Harassment
Verbal sexual harassment can occur in a variety of ways. If a fellow employee has made you feel uncomfortable, humiliated, intimidated, or threatened by their words, it could be a form of sexual harassment. It can sometimes be hard to pin down what exactly verbal harassment is. Some common forms of it include:
- Making offensive comments, remarks, teasing, or asking sexually related questions
- Unwelcome advances or sexual favors
- Gossiping and spreading lies about someone
- Using abusive language and offensive name-calling
- Asking someone to go out with you after they’ve said no already
- Making inappropriate noises, such as kissing sounds
- Inquiring about a coworker’s sexual preference
- Making sexual or suggestive comments
- Sending someone sexual notes, emails, or letters
Sexual harassment can also show up in the workplace in the form of physical harassment, which is also called workplace violence. This type of behavior makes an employee uncomfortable through threats and intimidation. Contact an employment attorney if this has happened to you at work with fellow employees or your employer. The most common manifestations of physical harassment include:
- Kissing or hugging someone inappropriately
- Intentionally rubbing your body against someone
- Blocking another employee’s movements
- Using gestures meant to intimidate
- Sexual assault, abuse, or rape
- Any unwelcome touching of someone’s body
- Attempts to touch someone sexually
- Pushing, shoving, or jostling
- Any other physical contact against someone’s will
Visual harassment is yet another form of sexual harassment that can take place at work. Seek expert advice, like a free consultation with The Henry Law Firm, if another employee has exposed themselves to you without your consent. Other examples of visual harassment can include:
- Sending sexual videos or images to another person
- Unwanted sexual gestures to a coworker
- Staring at someone’s body offensively
- Exposing of private parts
- Placing a poster or image with offensive or sexual images
- Exposing someone with pictures without their consent
- Displaying nasty messages from a website
Quid Pro Quo
Another form of sexual harassment in the workplace is called quid pro quo harassment. This type of harassment occurs when the conduct results in an intangible change in an employee’s employment status or benefits. In other words, the harassment becomes a condition of continued employment or leads to termination, demotion, or a lack of promotion opportunities for the employee.
Hostile Work Environment
The types of harassment mentioned above – visual, verbal, and physical – can all result in a hostile work environment. When the sexual harassment conduct is severe or pervasive enough, it creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment. The person responsible for creating a work environment like this could be a coworker, boss, supervisor, or non-employee. Some types of offensive conduct may entitle the victim to recourse.