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Sexual Harassment in Iowa
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 is a form of sexual discrimination and is against Iowa law. Sexual harassment may occur at a workplace or school and includes anything from mild transgressions, such as a general lewd joke to severe actions such as assault. Regardless of the individual circumstances, victims of sexual harassment in Iowa are entitled to seek legal action against their perpetrator to ensure that the unwanted behaviors stop and the workplace becomes safe once more.
Types of Sexual Harassment
There are several types of sexual harassment that vary with severity and frequency. In order for a behavior to be considered sexual harassment, it must be unwanted. The following are examples of sexual harassment and discrimination:
• Jokes about someone’s body, apparel or sex life
• General commentary that is sexual in nature
• Denying someone a promotion, raise or position because of their gender
• Inappropriately touching someone (i.e. hugging, kissing, fondling) without their consent
• Propositioning someone for sex
• Quid pro quo (this for that) sexual requests
• Sending sexual emails or letters
• Putting up pictures that are sexual in nature
• Blocking someone’s path
• Attacking someone
• Rape or attempt at rape
Victims and Harassers
Victims of sexual harassment can be of any gender, race, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation and so can harassers. Although usually perpetrators and victims are different sexes, many times they can also be of the same gender. In addition, victims don’t have to be directly affected by the harassment in order to file a complaint. Victims can include anyone who overhears any sexual comments or witnesses inappropriate behavior and takes offense.
Laws Against Sexual Harassment in Iowa
Sexual harassment victims in Iowa are protected at the federal level. Iowa recognizes sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination, which is prohibited by state law. Federal law prohibits discrimination at a workplace because of a person’s sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) outlines strict guidelines to address sexual harassment and ensure that the rights of every employee are upheld.
In addition to prohibiting sexual harassment at a job site, Iowa state law also prohibits sexual discrimination in areas including education, credit, housing and public accommodation, credit, and education.
Fighting Sexual Harassment in Iowa
Victims of sexual harassment in Iowa should file a complaint to ensure that their rights are upheld. Victims should speak to harassers first and let them know that their behaviors are unwelcome. If that doesn’t stop the inappropriate conduct, victims may escalate the matter to supervisors or Human Resources representatives. If the harassment continues, victims should contact a local civil rights agency or the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) before taking matters up in court. Any sexual harassment complaints must be filed within 180 days from the date when the incident(s) occurred. Victims may also turn to a leading employment lawyer in Iowa to fight for their rights.
Sexual harassment attorneys work diligently to protect the victims of sexual harassment from the offender and ensure that the perpetrator is put to justice. Sexual harassment lawyers make sure that the harassment stops immediately and never happens again, neither to the current victim nor to anyone else.
Unfortunately, many sexual harassment cases go unnoticed because victims are too afraid to come forward, either because they are embarrassed or because the fear the harasser will make matters worse. It is important to remember that victims of sexual harassment are protected by law and any perpetrator who has violated a victim’s rights will be held accountable for their actions.
The longer victims wait to report sexual harassment, the more an offender will continue their behavior. Harassers rarely stop their actions on their own, and usually, their behaviors become worse or more aggressive. Speaking to a sexual harassment lawyer will ensure that the inappropriate and unwanted actions stop immediately and do not happen again.
Contact a sexual harassment attorney in Iowa today to discuss your options and file a case against the perpetrator to ensure that the workplace remains safe and free from discrimination. Call today to set up a meeting with one of our paralegals near you.