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Sexual Harassment Shouldn’t Be Tolerated
Sexual harassment is an unlawful behavior that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, identifying the conduct that leads to harassment isn’t always easy. For every clear-cut example of improper demeanor, numerous situations fall under a grey area.
Maybe your colleagues keep commenting on your appearance, or your boss has the habit of making sexually charged jokes that make you feel uncomfortable. How can you tell when this type of attitude has crossed the line and rose to the level of violating the law?
A qualified sexual harassment lawyer can educate you about the many faces of unwanted sexual behavior and help you take legal action against your offender. They will defend your rights and help you pursue justice.
At USAttorneys we believe that you deserve to work in a safe and lawful environment. We’ve made it our purpose to help you stand up for your rights, make your voice heard, and receive the compensation you deserve.
Still a Grim Reality of Today’s Workplace
Employees must attend training that teaches them how to prevent sexual harassment. Companies must offer proof that they’ve educated their employees on anti-harassment policies to avoid liability. However, in most instances, this type of preventive behavior isn’t effective. As a result, sexual behavior is still a fundamental problem and a grim reality of most workplace environments.
The problem is that while this type of training manages to teach employees basic information, such as how they can report violations, they promote and reinforce gender stereotypes. Thus, instead of addressing the cause of the problem, they create a breeding environment where men are portrayed as sexual predators while women are weak and vulnerable.
Educating employees on the legal standards of unwanted sexual advances is paramount. People must know what constitutes an unlawful behavior and what they should do if they’ve been the victim of it. Making employees aware of their rights and obligations are the first and crucial steps to a safe and lawful workplace environment. However, if companies want to reduce the possibility of sexual harassment in their offices, then they must create a culture in which all employees are treated as equal, regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation.
Companies have the obligation to create a safe and comfortable environment for their employees. If one of your colleagues or your manager is acting inappropriately, requesting sexual favors, or making offensive comments, then you have the right to file a complaint. If the company has done nothing to remedy the situation, then you should seek the counsel of a sexual harassment lawyer.
The Legal Standard
By law, sexual harassment includes any unacceptable sexual advances, request for sexual favors in exchange for certain benefits, or any verbal or physical persecution of sexual nature. It can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex, such as making disrespectful comments about women.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also states that for the behavior to become unlawful, it must be so severe that it creates a hostile work environment that affects employees’ morale and their emotional well-being.
While these legal standards can be helpful, the situation can become rather difficult to manage when you or someone around you faces such an issue.
If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of unwanted sexual advances, then a sexual harassment lawyers can instruct you on your rights and guide you in your pursuit to take legal action.
Are you or someone close to you experiencing any of the following issues?
- Sexually explicit jokes;
- Unwanted language, emails or phone calls;
- Requests for sexual favors in exchange for a raise or promotion;
- Inappropriate touching;
- Sexual Assault;
- Retaliation after filing a harassment complaint;
- Hostile workplace environment;
A specialized employment lawyer can analyze your situation and evaluate the viability of your case. By filing a suit against your harasser, you can obtain justice and the compensation you deserve. Don’t ignore improper behavior thinking that it’s just a solitary act. A single incident can create a precedent that will, eventually, lead to a negative and insecure environment.
The Types of Sexual Harassment
Offensive sexual advances take many forms. In most cases, the improper behavior is obvious and calls for immediate action. However, there are instances when the harasser is so subtle that, although they make employees feel uncomfortable, they can’t exactly pinpoint the problem.
One way to know when a certain behavior is not acceptable from a legal standpoint is to understand the difference between the types of sexual harassment claims.
Quid Pro Quo
According to the law, quid pro quo refers to the practice of asking for sexual favors in exchange for certain benefits, such as a raise, a promotion or special job opportunities. Although the harasser didn’t engage in inappropriate behaviors, such as making sexually-charged jokes or offensive comments or inappropriate touching, this type of behavior classifies as sexual harassment.
It doesn’t matter if the request for sexual favors is explicit or only implicit. Quid pro quo acts range from blunt sexual assault to more subtle behaviors, such as requesting a date in exchange for information regarding a job opportunity.
Hostile Work Environment
Unwelcome sexual advances, offensive sexual remarks or any inappropriate verbal or physical, sexual conduct can create a hostile work environment. Although these parameters are pretty well-defined, the court will usually determine if a behavior classifies as harassment by trying to determine what a reasonable person would consider inappropriate conduct.
Some of the factors they take into consideration include:- Was the misconduct verbal, physical or both? - How frequent was it? - How offensive was the behavior? - Was the alleged harasser a colleague or supervisor? - Were other persons involved in perpetrating the harassment? - Was the harassment direct at one or more individuals?
Regardless of the type of harassment you are facing, a professional lawyer can educate you on your workplace rights and teach you how to stop the unwelcome conduct. They will give you a thorough and honest evaluation of your claim and tell you if it’s worth pursuing. They will also inform you of the different legal actions you can take to obtain justice against your harasser and receive correct compensation.
Work with a Lawyer Who Can Help You Obtain Justice
At USAttorneys, you can find the best reputable and dedicated lawyers who understand just how sensitive the issue is and the type of repercussion that you may be facing. With the right legal representation you can ensure that the harasser will stop the unwanted behavior and that your rights are respected. By speaking up and consulting with a specialized lawyer, not only that you will obtain legal justice but also receive fair monetary compensation for the physical and emotional hardship you had to endure.
If you want to find the best sexual harassment lawyer in your local area, then contact USAttorneys today.Understanding The Prevalence Of Sexual Harassment In Different Industries
While sexual harassment is present in all industries, to some extent, there are some where it’s much more likely to occur, according to a study published by the Center for American Progress.
The study examines more than 85,000 charges of sexual harassment. While the overwhelming majority of cases were women, there were a significant amount of men who filed reports of workplace sexual harassment. 80% of those who reported harassment were women, with the remaining 20% made up of men, or individuals who did not wish to disclose their gender identity.
The industries which had the most sexual harassment claims were the following:
- Accommodation and food services (14.23%) – The accommodation and food services industry, which includes hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and other such service and hospitality businesses, had the largest number of sexual harassment reports, by a large margin.It’s been known for a long time that those in the service industry often face high levels of sexual harassment, both from employers and coworkers, as well as customers. These numbers do not even reflect the truth of the industry – when self-reporting, 90% of women and 70% of men reported sexual harassment of some kind when working in the restaurant or hospitality industry.
- Retail trade (13.44%) – Retail was a close second, behind accommodation and food services. 13.44% of sexual harassment cases were reported in the retail trade industry. Both coworkers and managers can be the source of sexual harassment in retail, and the low wages and job security of positions in retail can lead to a failure to report sexual harassment – because victims do not want to risk their jobs.
- Manufacturing (11.72%) – This includes all kinds of factory and manufacturing work. Ford, for example, recently paid out millions in settlements to women who experienced consistent workplace harassment at two Chicago plants.Again, jobs in the manufacturing industry are typically low-paying and there is little job security – so victims of sexual harassment may fail to report their harassment, because they do not want to risk their livelihood.
- Health care and social assistance (11.48%)– This includes positions at hospitals, medical offices, nursing homes, and at-home caregiving, as well as a number of other positions. This is partially due to the high ratio of women in these positions – only about 9% of the nursing workforce is male, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.Nurses are often subjected to harassment both from supervisors and coworkers, as well as patients – and action is rarely taken in these cases. 1 in 3 nurses report being harassed by physicians, and no action is taken 74% of the time. The high-intensity environment of the healthcare industry makes it difficult for victims to report harassment – which is often brushed off by supervisors.
Sexual harassment is prevalent in every industry. But combined, these four make up nearly 50% of reports – and the true rate of sexual harassment and discrimination may be even higher.
And it’s easy to see the trend – most of these industries employ women and people of color who are in precarious financial situations, which may prevent them from reporting their harassment, and seeking justice. And women, especially women of color, are more vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault, compared to the population at large.
This is what sexual harassment lawyers wish to change – by holding companies and individuals accountable for their actions.When Should You Talk To A Lawyer?
Despite what many people think, the best time to talk to a team of sexual assault lawyers is before you report your harassment to HR. This is because you may need to take certain steps to protect your rights as a worker.
For example, a lawyer can help you understand the sexual harassment policy of your company, and aid you in finding the right HR or other employee who will be responsible for hearing your reports.
A lawyer can also help you outline your description of the harassing conduct – by building timelines, collecting evidence and testimony, and compiling information about the harassment to which you have been a subject.
This will help you provide a clear, calm explanation of your sexual harassment to the responsible individual in HR. This is important – many companies will seek to minimize the seriousness of a sexual harassment claim, particularly if the individual reporting the harassment might be seen as “hysterical” or may have mixed up a few facts and dates regarding their harassment.
Consulting with a lawyer before you report your harassment to HR can help you put together a case that’s strong, and provide you with the confidence that you need to relay the information about sexual harassment to HR with the utmost attention to detail.Reporting Sexual Harassment To HR – Understanding Your Next Steps
The process of reporting your sexual harassment to HR will be different in each company, and there may be different state-based guidelines for what actions you must take next. However, a broad overview of the process follows – you can consult with your own sexual harassment lawyers for more details.
- File a written complaint – First, you will want to identify the HR employee responsible for dealing with claims of sexual assault. Meet with them in-person and give them a written complaint, outlining all of the details of your harassment. This gives you a written record of the actions you have taken.
- Keep copies of everything you send to your employer – Make sure you keep copies of your complaints, particularly if you file multiple complaints and they are disregarded. This will ensure you have proof of the complaints – and whether or not action was taken based on them.
- Get a copy of your employee handbook – Your employee handbook will typically outline procedures for grievances and complaints about coworkers and other employees of the company. Make sure that you follow these procedures, to ensure that you are within corporate regulations. This can help you build a stronger case in court.
- Involve your union (if applicable) – If you are part of a union, you may want to file a formal grievance with the company through your union, through a shop steward or other union representative. See if your collective bargaining agreement discusses the problems you are experiencing, and file a grievance through the proper channels.
- Be aware of deadlines – There are legal deadlines involved with filing a formal complaint, or a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.For example, the EEOC gives you 300 days from the initial act of sexual harassment to file a complaint. State agencies may give you even less time – some state fair employment laws only give you 180 days to file a complaint.Consulting with sexual harassment lawyers is the best way to ensure you can file a formal complaint or lawsuit against your employer within the proper time period, should no action be taken based on your complaints, and should you wish to pursue further legal remedies for your harassment.
- File a discrimination complaint with the EEOC or state agency – If your employer has persistently failed to address your concerns, and you are still being harassed at work, filing a discrimination complaint with the EEOC (or your state agency) is the next step. Doing this will allow formal investigation proceedings to begin, and also allow you to file a lawsuit against your employer.
While each case will be different, and we recommend consulting with sexual harassment lawyers to ensure you build a strong case, these basic steps will likely be similar in most workplaces and in most states.Understand Your Rights – And How To Fight Back
The only way to fight back against the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault at the workplace is to hold the individuals who harass vulnerable people – and the companies that empower them to harass victims indiscriminately – responsible for what they’ve done.
If you have exhausted your options for filing complaints at your company, it may be time to open up a formal complaint with the EEOC or your local, state agency. Before doing so, we recommend that you consult with professional sexual harassment lawyers in your area. Find a law firm that can help you, using USAttorneys.com, and take the first steps towards pursuing justice.