Unwanted sexual behavior in a professional setting is inappropriate and illegal. There are two types of sexual harassment recognized by federal law.
Type 1: Quid Pro: This type of harassment occurs when an employer/decision maker promises benefits, or threatens to terminate an employee based on sexual favors.
Type 2: Hostile Environment: This type of sexual harassment creates an unpleasant or hostile work environment.
The law provides protection to both private and public employees as well as employees of labor organizations. Sexual harassment includes verbal, physical or visual sexual misconduct that is pervasive and unwanted. Inappropriate touching, sexual bullying, sexual confiding and stalking all constitute as sexual harassment. If inappropriate behavior is not only committed but tolerated by your supervisor or co-worker, you may have a sexual harassment claim. The following are examples of behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment:
- Making offensive comments of a sexual nature or any unwelcome sexual comments, even without harassing requests;
- Hanging offensive signs in cubicles or workrooms depicting pornography or containing obscenities;
- Ignoring or not responding to employees complaints of sexual harassment;
- Discrimination against female employees on the basis of pregnancy, or on the imagined likelihood of pregnancy occurring;
It is the responsibility of an employer to have a procedure in place to counter sexual harassment. Mandatory training programs and a zero tolerance standards can reduce sexual harassment incidents. If your employer has failed to implement sexual harassment prevention procedures your claim may be stronger. The courts look to a variety of factors to determine if the conduct is sufficiently severe and pervasive to give rise to liability for sexual harassment. In order to be actionable, the environment must be both objectively and subjectively offensive, one that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that the victim in fact did perceive to be so. Furthermore, if the sexual harassment in question resulted in you losing your job, there may be an additional wrongful termination claim to pursue.
Do you Have A Sexual Harassment Case?
I can evaluate your harassment claim, including an investigation of the harassment, workplace response and company anti-harassment policies/procedures to determine if you have a viable sexual harassment claim. If you feel you have been victimized by sexual harassment or subjected to a hostile work environment, or you are an employer who needs advice and counseling in this area, please contact my office.
If you have concerns or questions about workplace sexual discrimination, please contact our office for a consultation.