Sexual harassment is still pervasive in workplaces across the United States. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited in employment by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA). While these laws have been on the books for decades, reports of sexual harassment on the job continue.
Harassment can occur in any type of workplace, even if an employer has clear policies against such conduct. Sexual harassment can affect a victim’s financial situation, career, and quality of life. Harassment can cause mental anguish and can even cause someone to miss work or ultimately, quit their job if the harassment will not stop. The financial and emotional losses from sexual harassment can be serious, which is why the law gives victims the right to hold employers accountable.
If you have been sexually harassed at work, you have important legal rights. Seek the assistance of experienced Clearwater attorneys who are ready and able to stand up for those rights. Please do not wait to contact the Dolman Law Group to discuss what happened and learn about your legal options.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment takes on many forms. Because situations that amount to harassment can differ so substantially, it may be difficult just to identify whether you were a victim. However, sexual harassment usually falls into one of two categories.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo refers to an advantage or favor in return for something – in this case, an exchange for sexual favors. Harassers are typically empowered with the authority to make or influence decisions about your employment, such as hiring, promotions, work assignments, and firing. Often the harasser makes a sexual advance and ties conditions of your employment to your consent, whether explicitly or through implication. This can include promotions, pay increases, transfer to a better department, or other positive moves if you agree to the sexual acts. On the other hand, it can involve demotion, a less-desirable assignment, or even the loss of your job if you refuse.
Having a supervisor put your employment on the line for sexual favors can be frightening and demeaning. Many people feel helpless and that they have no other option but to comply. Always understand that this is illegal conduct and if you refuse a sexual advance and lose your job, you have the right to take legal action and recover for your losses, which can include reinstatement to your job if you choose, as well as punitive damages when appropriate to deter future misconduct.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
The second type of sexual harassment does not necessarily involve a supervisor or person with authority but instead may come from anyone in your workplace. It can also be more difficult to identify than quid pro quo harassment. In order for this type of conduct to be unlawful, the sexually-related conduct must create a hostile work environment for you. This means that a reasonable person would agree that the environment was hostile, intimidating, or abusive.
For example, when a coworker makes a single sexist or sexual joke that offends you, it likely does not constitute unlawful harassment under the law, because it was an isolated incident. In general, isolated incidents do not create a hostile work environment under the law unless the conduct was severely offensive. A single joke likely will not create a hostile work environment; although a single incident of sexual assault likely will.
Offensive conduct that is repeated and pervasive can rise to the level of a hostile work environment. Examples include:
- Constantly telling sexually-offensive jokes
- Making repeated sexual comments about you
- Displaying sexually-offensive comics, photos, or videos
- Making sexual propositions
- Unwanted touching
- Talking about sexual history or exploits
When you are continuously exposed to this type of behavior, it can become highly upsetting and you could have a valid case for sexual harassment. You should not delay in having an experienced attorney review your situation.
Your Rights as a Victim of Unlawful Workplace Harassment
When you are the victim of sexual harassment that your employer condoned or failed to prevent, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer as well as the perpetrator to recover for your losses. Losses commonly include lost income, loss of a job, emotional distress, any physical harm from sexual assaults, treatment for mental harm, and more. You may have multiple options available to you to recover under the law, but the law imposes strict limits on the amount of time you have to bring a claim, so you should always talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you believe that sexual harassment is causing a hostile work environment, you should consider discussing the matter with someone you trust at work, such as a human resources representative. Once an employer knows that such conduct is occurring, they must take the necessary steps to stop the harassment. If they do not, consult with a lawyer right away.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, the last thing you may want is to be reminded of the conduct. However, it is in your best interests to preserve any evidence of the harassment, including inappropriate emails, text messages, voicemails, and photos. You should also contact a law firm that handles harassment cases as soon as possible and ensure your right to recover is preserved under the law.
Consult With a Clearwater Sexual Harassment Attorney as Soon as Possible
Too many people suffer sexual harassment at work. You do not have to tolerate this type of illegal misconduct. The sexual harassment lawyers at the Dolman Law Group are committed to standing up for the rights of employees who suffer unlawful discrimination or harassment. The sooner you call, the sooner we can help. Please call 727-451-6900 or contact us online to discuss what happened and explore your legal options today.