If you are the target of unwelcome and unwanted sexual advances or gender-based hostility in the workplace, you must step forward and report each instance so that your employer has the opportunity to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Your employer has a legal duty to put a stop to harassment in its tracks and to educate and train employees about appropriate workplace conduct. If the steps taken to prevent harassment fail to produce a satisfactory outcome, you may have a claim for sexual harassment under state and federal law. If you are victimized further or retaliated against for complaining which can occur when the complaint concerns high level individuals in an organization, an experienced employment law attorney can help you evaluate whether you have a viable claim and if so, help you take legal action.
Sexual harassment can take many different forms, ranging from hurtful gestures, pictures or comments about a person’s body, private parts, appearance or sexual activities to unwelcome physical touching that may be tantamount to a physical assault on your person depending on the circumstances. Legally speaking, however, most of these cases fall into two separate overarching categories that focus on the nature of the abusive conduct:
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a director, manager or supervisor preconditions job opportunities on an employee’s submission to sexual advances.
Hostile work environment involves cases where employees experience an offensive, intimidating, sexually charged, or oppressive work atmosphere. Employees may feel pressured to quit because of the unavoidable harassment they endure.
If you experience sexual harassment at work and your employer has failed to take appropriate corrective action, you should consider whether to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or an equivalent state agency. Such claims have strict timelines during which they must be filed. A typical expiration date is that a claim with a government agency for harassment or alleged illegal workplace actions are to be filed within 180 days of the last instance of sexual harassment, unless state law permits an extension. If the EEOC or state agency agrees that a violation has occurred, they may try to reach a voluntary settlement with your employer. If no agreement can be reached, the EEOC or state agency may issue a Right-to-Sue letter, allowing you to pursue a lawsuit in a court of law assuming no other barriers would prevent it such as a pre-employment agreement that you will arbitrate any disputes with your employer. For legal help with a sexual harassment case, contact an experienced employment lawyer at Farrise Law Firm.