Washington, D.C. – December 2, 2020

Recent survey data reveals that more than ¼ of Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) employees claimed they were harassed, or discriminated against due to their race, or gender.  Claims were made against a senior official at FEMA to push back against the negative behavior of workplace harassment, supported by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as workplace discrimination, and more recently in the 2020 Supreme Court of the United States ruling in favor of gay, lesbian, and transgender employee rights from discrimination based on sex.

When a victim is not protected under Title VII language, a civil rights, personal injury, or employment law attorney may be able to offer another means toward compensation when workplace harassment causes harm and damage to an employee.

Sexual harassment law. 

The law addresses sexual harassment in the form of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature through:

  • Quid Pro Quo. Authoritative figures/bosses in the workplace demand, or require sexual acts for preferential treatment, or to avoid punitive action – employment decisions made because an individual has submitted to, or rejected the negative behaviors.
  • Hostile Work Environment. A boss, or employer does not remedy a work environment where sexually inappropriate behavior is present, negatively affecting work performance and creating intimidating, hostile and abusive work environments.

 Identify sexual harassment.

  1. Uninvited physical contact.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Displaying sexually explicit media, or objects.
  4. Intimidation through rude remarks that are gender-related.
  5. Offering promotions, special treatment, or limiting advancement and threatening termination based on requests and submission of sexual favors.
  6. Understated flirting, or sexually suggestive conversation.

Victim reporting.

 Victims should inform the harasser that their conduct is unwelcome and insist that it stops void of danger. They should use any employer complaint mechanism, or grievance system available, including complaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Positive settlement awards may be the result of strong cases presented by experienced legal counsel.

Employer prevention and legal recourse. 

Prevention by employers is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, through clear communication to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated, keeping in mind that leadership and workplace culture have a positive impact on the reduction of sexual harassment. It is also unlawful for employers to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on sex, or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.   Victims of sexual harassment have legal options against sexual harassment, and seeking legal counsel is the first thing a victim should do after reporting the abuse through the proper channels where the incident took place.

 

Sources.

https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-12-02/survey-finds-race-and-sex-based-harassment-common-at-fema

https://www.justice.gov/crt/fcs/TitleVI-Overview

https://www.ada.gov/

https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964

https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/age-discrimination-employment-act-1967

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