WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with the performance of a person’s job or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. This illegal activity is not just restricted to women, and it can take the form of sexual jokes, innuendos, propositions or offensive material. It is considered to be sexual discrimination under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many states have their own additional legislation that is even more specific.
There are two types of this kind of harassment. In quid pro quo, employees are expected by authority figures such as supervisors to tolerate harassment as a condition of getting or keeping their job or job benefits. A single incident is enough to make a quid pro quo claim. The second type of this form of sexual discrimination is hostile work environment. This is a pattern of unwelcome, sex-based behavior that is pervasive or severe enough to bring about a hostile or offensive work environment. To evaluate hostile work environment claims, the following factors are considered:
- The nature of the conduct (physical, verbal or both);
- Frequency of the conduct;
- Whether the conduct was offensive or hostile;
- Who was the perpetrator (coworker or supervisor);
- If others participated;
- Whether harassment was directed to one or more than one victim.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO HIRE THE RIGHT ATTORNEY FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Creating a solid case to prove this type of harassment can be a challenge. That’s why you need a competent, experienced attorney on your side throughout the ordeal. That person will be well-versed in both state and federal legislation on this subject and can, as a result, assist you in gathering all relevant evidence. Until very recently, allegations of this sort were often downplayed and dismissed out of hand. Even in today’s milieu of the Me Too movement, it is to your advantage to have a legal professional on your side.
HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY IN SEXUAL HARSSMENT HELP ME AND PROTECT MY RIGHTS?
The burden is on you as the victim to prove not only that you believed the conduct was offensive, hostile or abusive but also that any objective person in your situation would also believe this to be true. Your employment attorney can help you to put together a compelling case backed by all of the supporting evidence available to you in order to help you to satisfy both these subjective and objective standards. In addition, your employment attorney can use their knowledge and years of experience in this field to help you determine what type and amount of compensatory (pain and suffering and loss of money) and punitive damages you can reasonably expect to receive based on who committed the action and what your employer did or did not do to correct the situation.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A CASE OR CLAIM?
If you believe you are being sexually harassed, it is your first responsibility to attempt to stop it by informing the harasser in person or in writing that the behavior is unwelcome and offensive. If you are uncomfortable doing these things, tell a supervisor, making sure to carefully document each action. If that effort fails, consult written handbooks or other policy statements. Step by step, escalate your complaint up the chain of command if you don’t receive satisfaction. Bring all of your meticulously documented evidence to an employment attorney, who can then formulate a compelling harassment case.
The employment lawyers at the Lee Legal Group have years of experience in helping victims who have been sexually harassed. Therefore, we know the toll this offensive behavior takes on those who experience it, and we make it our mission to help you stop it in its tracks and give your employer the consequences they deserve. Receive a free, no obligation consultation from our empathetic and professional staff, and you will be on your way to recovering the damages and dignity to which you are entitled.