Sexual Harassment – An Overview
Many sexual harassment claims are filed because a workplace has become a hostile environment. This means that the offensive conduct, based on the sex of the victim, is so severe and pervasive that a reasonable person would see the environment as hostile or abusive. A hostile environment is created by employees (or even non-employees) who, for instance, engage in conversation that is sexually offensive or display sexually explicit pictures. Employers have a legal obligation to make sure that the workplace is not a hostile environment.
If your workplace is intolerable, contact an attorney to discuss a possible hostile environment sexual harassment claim.
Sexual harassment is not a joke. While to some it may seem like harmless comments or horseplay, it deprives others of dignity and equality. Victims of sexual harassment have well-established rights under federal law and, in many cases, under state law as well. A knowledgeable employment law attorney from Allred, Maroko & Goldberg in Los Angeles, CA, can advise you on protecting your rights.
Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination. Sexual harassment may consist of sexual requests from a superior, tied to the quality of the employee’s job or benefits, or it can be the inappropriate behavior of one or more co-workers. It is forbidden by federal civil rights law and by numerous state anti-discrimination laws. These laws give you specific rights and remedies if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace.
What is “Sexual Harassment?”
Sexual harassment is employment discrimination. It is verbal or physical abuse, typically of a sexual nature. The harasser can be a man or a woman, and so can the victim; the harasser and the victim can be of the same gender or different genders. Harassment is considered discrimination because it singles out the victim on the basis of a protected category — in this case, gender. Victims of sexual harassment often suffer negative effects. They may not be able to perform their jobs sufficiently; they may suffer psychological damage; and they may feel forced to quit. An attorney with experience in handling sexual harassment claims can tell you if you have a case for sexual harassment.
What Can an Employee Do About Sexual Harassment?
People who suffer sexual harassment can feel powerless, especially when they are told that there is nothing they can do about it. Victims of sexual harassment, however, have strong rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and many state laws. An experienced attorney can tell you exactly what you can do to put a stop to sexual harassment.
Keeping a Sexual Harassment Log
Sexual harassment in the workplace typically consists of numerous incidents. An accurate and detailed written log, or diary, of the incidents will help prove your claim of sexual harassment by providing evidence of what took place and when. An attorney with experience in handling sexual harassment claims can tell you what type of evidence you need in order to bring a sexual harassment claim.
Coping with Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment has serious emotional effects on its victims. It can also do damage to a victim’s career. If you bring a sexual harassment case in court, getting through it and rebuilding your career afterward may seem almost as difficult as was dealing with the harassment itself. An attorney with experience in handling sexual harassment cases can offer suggestions and resources to help you deal with the effects of your case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Harassment
Q: Can my employer retaliate against me for filing a sexual harassment claim?
A: No. Federal law prohibits retaliation against employees who report unlawful employment practices or who file a claim for workplace discrimination. You are also protected from retaliation for appearing as a witness in another employee’s sexual harassment lawsuit.
Q: Is sexual harassment only men harassing women?
A: No matter who is harassing whom, it can be sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is verbal or physical abuse that amounts to discrimination against a person because of his or her sex. If the harassment is between two people of the same sex, the person who is being harassed must show that the harassment was based on his or her sex (not just the sexual desire, if any, of the harasser). The person suffering harassment also must have been treated differently than members of the opposite sex were treated.
Sexual Harassment Resource Links
Facts About Sexual Harassment
Information about sexual harassment from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Sexual Harassment: It’s Not Academic
Sexual harassment in schools, published by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
Stopping Sexual Harassment: An AFSCME Guide
Sexual harassment issues from the viewpoint of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a union representing public employees.
Sexual Harassment: The Employer’s Role in Prevention
Employer-focused article, sponsored by the American Bar Association Section on General Practice. Contains information on where to find model sexual harassment policies.
What Speech Does “Hostile Work Environment” Harassment Law Restrict?
Article by a UCLA law professor regarding the conflict between First Amendment freedom of expression and laws protecting against harassment in the workplace.