Gulfport, MS- Working is fact of life for the majority of Mississippi residents. It’s just something they have to do to enjoy a quality life. Going to work doesn’t always fill a person with joy, but for some people going to work fills them with dread because they are being subjected to sexual harassment or discrimination at the hands of a supervisor or coworker.
Even though most workplaces make their employees go through sexual harassment training, the problem continues to be pervasive. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received over 30,000 sexual harassment complaints and that doesn’t account for the thousands of people who choose not file formal complaints. Recent studies have shown that the majority of harassment victims don’t report the behavior to their employers.
Workers in Mississippi need to know that they don’t have to tolerate sexual harassment and have a legal recourse to stop the inappropriate behavior, but they must first understand what exactly constitutes sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can include comments and jokes of a sexual nature, repeated sexual advances or inappropriate and unsolicited touching and groping. When a supervising employee offers favors, pay raises, days off or other perks in exchange for sexual favors this is referred to as quid pro quo harassment. Singling out an employee for their sexual orientation is also considered harassment.
Surely, many workers at one point in time has heard or told a sexually-charged joke. Or, they have been complemented on how good they look in a certain item of clothing, or told how attractive they are. These are often just a one-time incidents that can make a person feel uncomfortable, but a single incident doesn’t necessarily meet the legal threshold for filing a sexual harassment lawsuit.
In order for a person to have legal grounds to file a formal lawsuit, the harassment must be repeated and pervasive. The behavior must be so noxious that it creates a hostile working environment which creates a great deal of emotional distress and anxiety for the target of the harassment.
Mississippi does not have specific laws governing sexual harassment in the workplace, but employees are protected from harassment and discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This gives the harassed employee the right to pursue their employer and their harasser in federal court, but they must first file a formal complaint with the human resources department of the business they work for.
An employer must first be given the chance the resolve the issue internally. An employer must appropriately discipline or dismiss the offending employee, and are forbidden from punishing the complainant. Should an employer fail to take action against the harasser or punish the reporting employee by subjecting them to additional harassment, cutting their hours or firing them, that employer can be taken to court.
Federal statues allow sexual harassment victims to seek compensation for lost wages, future wages and emotional distress caused by the harassing behavior. Victims of sexual harassment are entitled to significant settlements which can be increased with the assistance of Gulfport sexual harassment attorney.