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What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is classified as a form of sexual discrimination as per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has a clear definition for sexual harassment: “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.”
There are many different forms of sexual harassment, which vary in frequency and intensity. However, regardless of the particular incident, the important thing to remember is that any sexual harassment conduct is unwelcome. In Wisconsin, for a behavior to be considered sexual harassment, the conduct has to occur more than just a few times and cannot be just a casual comment, such as one general lewd joke. The only way a single act may constitute sexual harassment in Wisconsin is if the behavior involves touching the victim’s “intimate body.”
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can be a mild series of transgressions, such as a sexual joke or a one-time severe act, such as rape. If you or someone you know has experienced any of the following types of behavior, seek help right away:
• Lewd verbal comments or gestures
• Offensive jokes that are sexual in nature
• Request for sexual favors
• Unwelcome sexual advances
• Impacting a victim’s position due to a refusal to accept sexual advances
• Creating a hostile work environment
• Quid pro quo (this for that) requests in which someone offers another person some sort of benefit (typically work related) in exchange for sexual favors
Victims of Sexual Harassment
There are many stereotypes connected to sexual harassment. While the majority of victims of sexual harassment are women, anyone can be the target of sexual harassment. Victims and offenders can be of any gender, race, age, ethnicity, religious background, or sexual orientation.
Why Come Forward with Sexual Harassment Allegations?
When sexual harassment occurs, a victim’s life is profoundly impacted. Victims may be left feeling embarrassed, alone and even afraid. Their performance at work can decline due to the harassment and they may no longer be able to carry out their position’s duties efficiently. Sexual harassment almost never stops without taking action against the harasser. If the offender is not held accountable, they may continue or increase the severity of their actions or even turn to a new victim. Coming forward with allegations ensures that the unwanted behavior stops and that the workplace becomes free of hostility and discrimination.
Sexual Harassment Laws in Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin does not have a general prohibition against sexual harassment, it is considered a form of discriminatory conduct based on gender and is not allowed.
In order for conduct to be considered sexual harassment in Wisconsin, victims must show that they have been subjected to a series of harassing behaviors to the point that it has interfered with their performance at work or has created a hostile work environment.
In Wisconsin, a person may be considered a victim of sexual harassment even if they consented to the behavior. Wisconsin law also states that sexual harassment may occur between two people of the same sex, even if the conduct is not sexual in nature. The perpetrators can be anyone from a co-worker, supervisor or even a non-employee.
Employers can be held accountable if they knew about the sexual harassment and did not take the necessary steps to stop the behaviors from occurring. Victims may be entitled to money damages based on lost wages, pain and suffering and even attorney fees.
Those who feel as though they have been victimized should file a complaint with the Equal Rights Division or may also solicit individual help from a sexual harassment lawyer.
Working with a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, victims of sexual harassment have a right to come forward and seek legal help to ensure that the offensive and unwanted conduct stops immediately. If you or someone you know at work have been the targets of sexual harassment, a sexual harassment attorney for assistance immediately.
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and is not tolerated in Wisconsin. You have a right to work in an environment that is free of hostility, intimidation and fear. If those rights are violated in any way, you may be eligible for compensation for your pain and suffering. Sexual harassment lawyers work day and night to make sure you receive your full spectrum of benefits and will do whatever it takes to bring the harasser to justice. Turn to an acclaimed sexual harassment attorney in Wisconsin today to fight for your rights.