Work is a place where an individual spends most of their life. Having a healthy work environment and great colleagues can make the workplace fun. But it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you are sexually harassed at work. Hostile working conditions can take a toll on your mental and physical health and make you significantly unproductive. But you don’t need to suffer silently. Sexual harassment is a punishable and illegal offense. You have the right to voice your concern against workplace sexual harassment and demand justice. There are federal, state, and local laws that have been laid down to protect employees from unwanted sexual advances and demands. Sexual harassment attorneys are well-versed with these laws and can help add strength to your voice against injustice at your workplace.
Sexual harassment at workplaces can take many different forms. The perpetrator can be anyone from a supervisor to a manager or a customer. Sexual harassment is typically described as unsolicited or unwanted sexual advances or conduct of sexual nature such as groping, touching verbal abuse, demeaning, or offensive comments that may or may not have job-related implications for the individual being subjected to the harassment. Subjecting the victim to a hostile working environment by insulting or demeaning them due to their sexual orientation or preferences can also be considered sexual harassment.
To understand it better, workplace sexual harassment can be classified into two types:
You can be subject to a hostile work environment in the following ways:
You are subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment if a supervisor or a manager or anyone above you demands or asks for sexual contact in return for a promotion or any other employment benefits. It is still considered harassment if you deny the offer or have sexual contact fearing you will lose your job.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes sexual harassment illegal across the United States. The law deems sexual harassment of employees by anyone at work illegal regardless of their sexual orientation or gender. Title VII is specifically designed for employers. Under the law, employers are considered to be responsible for providing a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. This means that the law deems it illegal for employers to allow harassment to occur and stop it once they know it is happening. Title VII, therefore, gives you the right to sue your employer under whose watch the harassment occurred.
You may feel like you are jeopardizing your job or risking your employment by speaking up for sexual harassment at the workplace. But you are protected by law as it is illegal for an employer or anyone at work to retaliate or punish you for speaking against harassment. When an HR representative or boss is informed about harassment, they must take prompt action and stop it. If instead, they retaliate by giving you a pay cut, shifting your location, assigning you a different position, demoting you, firing you, or in any other way that makes your work or life suffer, then you have the right to take legal action against your employer.
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, the first step you are required to take is to file a complaint with a federal or local government agency. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for taking citizens’ complaints against workplace sexual harassment at the federal level. However, there are strict deadlines or statutes of limitations for filing a complaint. The deadline varies from state to state but typically lies in the range of 180 days to 300 days from when the last act of harassment took place. Filing a complaint is important because without that you won’t be allowed to sue your employer. After filing a complaint, you receive a right to sue notice that allows you to file a lawsuit against your employer.
Each case is different and needs to be evaluated by a legal expert. According to the details of your case and your circumstances, you can demand reinstatement or compensation. Here is what you can demand when filing a lawsuit against your employer:
Hiring a sexual harassment attorney can help you in the following ways:
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