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What is Sexual Harassment?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as any “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of 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 include mild transgressions, such as making a general joke that is sexual in nature or severe actions, such as assault or rape. Regardless of the individual circumstances, the important thing to remember is that any form of sexual harassment is against the law in Indiana and victims have a right to file a formal complaint against the offender and ensure that they are put to justice.
Examples of Sexual Harassment in Indiana
There are many ways in which a person may be harassed sexually. Harassment can be verbal, written, visual or physical in nature. The incident may be relatively mild in nature, but due to repeated behavior, an individual may feel uneasy or offended. Likewise, a person’s actions can be so severe, such as by physically attacking someone, that a one-time transgression can be enough to merit sexual harassment charges.
The following are some examples of conduct that can be considered sexual harassment:
• Making jokes about a person’s body, clothing or appearance
• General sexual commentary that may make another person feel uneasy
• Stalking someone
• Sending lewd or sexually inappropriate emails
• Taking pictures of an individual without their consent
• Quid pro quo (this for that) sexual requests
• Blocking someone’s path
• Spreading rumors about a person’s sex life
• Touching someone inappropriately and without their consent
• Physically assaulting an individual, as in rape or attempt at rape
Who can be a Victim of Sexual Harassment?
Anyone can become a victim of sexual harassment in Indiana. Although it is most common to see harassment occur between a female victim and a male perpetrator, victims can be of any gender, age, race or sexual orientation. Victims and harassers may even be of the same sex. In addition, an individual may file sexual harassment charge against someone even if they are not directly affected by the behavior. Anyone who is made uncomfortable or who is offended by someone else’s remarks or actions at work may file a sexual harassment complaint.
Victims’ Legal Rights
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 considers sexual harassment to be a form of sexual discrimination and perpetrators must cease their actions if they are informed by victims that their behaviors are unwelcome. If matters are not resolved immediately between the victim and the perpetrator, the issue may be escalated to a supervisor or Human Resources personnel. If that still doesn’t resolve the problem, victims may take legal action against the assailant.
In Indiana, it is also illegal for an employee’s job to be put in jeopardy if they have filed a sexual harassment complaint or participated in an investigation of another victim’s complaints. Employers may not terminate a victim from their position, demote them, give them a negative performance review, or affect their jobs in any way due to the sexual harassment complaints. In addition, employers must cooperate with any investigations over the incident and must keep matters as confidential as possible.
Working with a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Indiana
When a harasser does not stop their actions, even after being told that their conduct was not welcome, victims may take legal action against them and file a complaint with the help of a sexual harassment lawyer. Victims have a right to work in a place that is free from discrimination, offensive behavior and aggression and sexual harassment attorneys make it their mission to see to it that the perpetrator is held accountable for their actions.
The victims of sexual harassment may also be entitled to receive compensation for their pain and suffering. Sexual harassment lawyers take the time to file formal charges against the perpetrator and represent their clients in a court of law to ensure they receive the maximum possible benefits for the damage the incident has caused.
Although legal help is readily available, many victims never speak up about the incident out of fear that the harasser will retaliate or because they are embarrassed to come forward in general. However, sexual harassment victims in Indiana are protected and doing nothing about a harassment incident will only make matters worse. Harassers usually keep on hurting victims unless they are stopped by supervisors or if legal action is taken. Don’t wait until things get worse to make sure the harasser is put to justice, speak to a leading team of sexual harassment attorneys right away.
Contact one of our sexual harassment lawyers in the state near you if you have been victimized and want to set up a claim. Our paralegals will do all in their power to make sure your harasser stops and is brought to justice.