Sexual harassment is an illegal form of sex discrimination covered in both federal and state law. In particular, Title VII of the Civil Rights law prohibits sexual harassment across the nation. The law applies to companies with 15 or more employees, and is enforced by the government agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Two types of legal violations under Title VII can occur with sexual harassment. First, when an employer makes sexual acts or favors a condition of employment, courts refer to this as quid pro quo sexual harassment. This type of violation is typical, for instance, when an employer fires an employee for rejecting unwelcome sexual advances or refuses to promote an employee unless she agrees to become sexually involved.
Additionally, some forms of sexual harassment become illegal because they create a hostile work environment. This occurs when behavior and conduct of a sexual nature is so severe and pervasive that an employee is prevented from performing his or her job duties. Both types of violations can occur to women or men and are not specific to any gender.
Hostile work environment cases are not limited to direct victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. They may also involve third party witnesses to the the sexual harassment who prove the harassment is so severe that it prevents them from effectively doing their job. It’s important to note that infrequent or random remarks of a sexual nature may not be deemed sexual harassment for purposes of the law, even if they are sexually explicit or offensive.
Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
Sometimes an employer decides to retaliate against an employee who has complained about sexual harassment. The employer could be liable for doing so if the employee sufficiently proves that her employer took adverse action against her due to her complaint. The illegality of retaliation would also apply if an employee filed a charge with the EEOC or participated in court proceedings involving an employer’s sexual harassment and subsequently experienced adverse action.
Remedies to Sexual Harassment In the Workplace
A number of remedies are available to employees who successfully claim sexual harassment in the workplace. A major remedial measure is back pay. When an employee has experienced emotional harm due to sexual harassment, they may receive compensatory damages. Additionally, employees could be hired, promoted or reinstated based on particular sexual harassment claims. Beyond these, attorney’s fees and court costs could also be covered by a successful suit.
No Workplace is Immune
No workplace is immune to sexual harassment . Employers must educate employees about particular policies implemented to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Employees must be vigilant about communicating that sexual advances, favors and other forms of sexual harassment are unwelcome and will be reported.
It is not easy to handle a sexual harassment lawsuit alone. Instead, employees need the help of a qualified team of attorneys with significant experience and expertise in employment law. Adequate representation is critical in sexual harassment cases involving employees who feel under pressure to maintain their career, yet still want the justice they deserve. Allow the attorneys at Shegerian & Associates to assist with your sexual harassment case. Contact us today via email or call us 24/7 at 1-800-GOT-FIRED.