Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

In general, sexual harassment lawsuits fall under two categories: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile environment sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when an employer or supervisor demands sexual favors or makes unwanted sexual advances in return for a raise or promotion or even as a condition of employment. For quid pro quo sexual harassment:

  • It is sufficient to show the threat of financial loss to prove quid pro quo sexual harassment
  • A single sexual advance may constitute harassment if it is linked to the granting or denial of employment benefits
  • Courts have held employers strictly liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment by supervisors.
  • An employee who submits and then changes his or her mind and refuses can still file a quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuit.

Men and women often make the mistake of believing that if they have given in to demands for sexual favors in order to advance then there has been no sexual harassment and therefore no case. This is not always true. The key to sexual harassment is that the advances are unwanted.

The second category of employment sexual harassment is called hostile environment sexual harassment. Hostile sexual harassment is when the work environment is made intolerable by offensive photos, comments, jokes or other acts of a sexual nature, including physical touching and rape. Hostile sexual harassment is not limited to supervisors. Coworkers, customers, clients or supervisors can also create a hostile work environment that leads to hostile sexual harassment.

Hostile sexual harassment can include:

  • Repeated requests for sexual favors
  • Demeaning sexual inquiries and vulgarities
  • Offensive language
  • Other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual or degrading nature
  • Sexually offensive, explicit or sexual signs, cartoons, calendars, the literature of photographs displayed in plain view
  • Offensive of vulgar graffiti

Where there is quid pro quo sexual harassment, there is also likely to be hostile sexual harassment.

Given the delicate nature of sexual harassment lawsuits, we make every effort to minimize the stress for you as work to win your case. Please contact us so that we may help you win your sexual harassment lawsuit.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.

It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination of the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on sex or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

Sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits are emotional and represent financial ordeal. Werman Salas P.C. ease the emotional and financial strain associated with sexual harassment lawsuits by putting a seasonedemployment lawyeron your case so you feel comfortable discussing the situation and letting us help you win your sexual harassment lawsuit.

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