You’re feeling uncomfortable at work. Inappropriate comments, maybe a touch that lingers too long, or offensive jokes circulated via email. Feeling embarrassed or even a little prudish, you may be unsure if you should say anything. Is this harassment, or are you just overreacting? Listen to your instincts. If you do feel uncomfortable (or in the worst case scenario, even threatened) by workplace sexual harassment , remember that the law should protect you. You do have rights.
What is Sexual Harassment?
If you experience any unwelcome or intimidating conduct in the workplace that’s sexual in nature, this behavior has the potential to create a hostile work environment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects you from sexual harassment, so it’s important you understand your rights under Title VII. Facts about sexual harassment include:
- A sexual harassment victim or offender doesn’t have to be the opposite sex. And, either can be a woman or a man.
- You don’t need to be the person harassed to be the victim. You could claim a hostile work environment if the behavior offends you.
- A sexual harasser can be a supervisor, a co-worker, or an agent of the employer.
- Harassment doesn’t have to be sexual in nature — it can also include derogatory comments about a person’s gender.
- Isolated or petty incidents typically don’t constitute harassment. Conduct must create an environment a reasonable person would find intimidating, offensive, and abusive.
This is only a partial list. Consult with qualified sexual harassment lawyers if you have concerns about harassment.
How to Protect Yourself
You can take steps to help yourself before seeking legal advice.
- Consult your employee handbook for your company’s policy on sexual harassment.
- Inform the harasser that his or her actions are offensive. Yes, this may be uncomfortable, but he or she may actually be unaware their actions make you feel threatened.
- If a personal appeal doesn’t work, speak to a superior or Human Resources.
- Document everything.
- Remember that employer retaliation (demotion, firing, transferring) is illegal.
If you are an employer concerned about workplace sexual harassment, ensure you have a clear policy in place. You should train every employee on sexual harassment laws — in fact, most states require this training. If you do unfortunately find yourself at the wrong end of a lawsuit, whether you are an employer or an employee, contact sex harassment offense lawyers as soon as possible.
Sexual Harassment Lawyers Can Help
If you suffered sexual harassment on the job, Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq can help. Please call 1-800-923-3456 or contact us online to speak with a dedicated harassment attorney.