Those who suffer sexual harassment in the workplace do not have to tolerate the behavior; there are options. However, people who suffer through sexual harassment in the workplace are often hesitant to report the behavior. They are intimidated by the fear that reporting this degrading and demeaning behavior could have negative consequences. These feared consequences could include termination, damage to prospects of future employment, demotions and negative transfers. These potential negative consequences can be mitigated by empowering the sexually harassed individual to stop the behavior and demand redress for the professional and emotional distress as a result of the illegal behavior.
Sexual Harassment and Employment Law
Sexual harassment falls under the federal employment discrimination laws. In many areas, it not only violates United States federal law, but state and local laws. Employers are obligated to take action to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. If sexual harassment is reported to the employer, immediate action must be taken to deal with the situation. In addition, the employee reporting sexual harassment is legally protected from retaliation by the employer.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment comes in many forms. Some of these forms include:
- Being directly asked for sex or sexual contact.
- Unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances. This can be requests for dates or requests for meeting outside of the workplace.
- Sexually charged speech.
- Physical contact of a sexual nature.
- Being required to function in a hostile work environment.
- Behavior deemed inappropriate to the workplace. This includes sexist and derogatory language and pornographic images in the workplace.
- Discriminatory and unfair treatment, including denial of opportunities and promotion, based on gender.
Should I Pursue a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?
Individuals victimized by sexual harassment are often reluctant to pursue a lawsuit. They are often caught in the dilemma of fearing the potential of negative consequences of reporting sexual harassment, while knowing that action must be taken. Attorneys experienced in sexual harassment cases take great care in the way they treat clients that have been victims of harassment. Great attention will be given to the privacy of the client. And, if possible, the case will be pursued on a completely private basis through negotiations with the employer or through filings with agencies such as the EEOC which are charged with the responsibility of investigating claims of such harassment.
Whether it is sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination in the workplace, it is important to understand the rights and legal options of the worker. If an employer has violated your rights, set up a no cost consultation with a law firm that is experienced in workplace discrimination.