Many claims that focus on the workplace are meant to protect against discrimination or creating a hostile work environment. One common legal claim that can be either a form of gender based discrimination or argument that workplace has become unbearable is sexual harassment. This is most commonly associated with an employee’s superiors expecting certain kinds of sexual favors in exchange for things like pay increases, vacation time, or even just to keep their job. However, it can also include consistent verbal or physical attacks that damage a person psychologically.
Sexual harassment is actually most common in industries such as restaurants, food and beverage, and hospitality. These are also industries where the victims are least likely to report their mistreatment.
Faragher v. City of Boca Raton
The city of Boca Raton is significant in sexual harassment laws for being the site of an important case in U.S. Supreme Court history which outlined when these claims can be brought as federal civil rights actions. The case of Faragher v. City of Boca Raton is about a female lifeguard who was routinely harassed by her male superiors between 1985 and 1990. The victim recounted stories where she was told by a male supervisor that she must date him or she would be forced to clean toilets, and that she was also subjected to various instances of physical touching and offensive sexual comments. Much of the legal analysis in the case is dedicated to the doctrine of holding employers strictly liable for the actions of their employees under Title VII Civil Rights Claims, which would mean that the woman could sue the city of Boca Raton. At the conclusion of the analysis, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back down to the district court to be decided based on their new guidance from the opinion.
How to prove harassment from a legal standpoint
Today, lawyers still use a similar method to the one outlined in this case to prove that an employer can be held responsible for this kind of mistreatment. It is best to have evidence of sexual harassment in the form of detailed notes of when an incident happens or other materials such as photographs, video surveillance, emails, or text messages, which provide indisputable proof that harassment has occurred. This, along with the victim’s testimony, is used to help a judge or jury determine that a workplace has become hostile or abusive by an objective standard of reasonableness. When such a finding is conclusively made, the employer will have to pay out damages to the victim.
What are the elements of a sexual harassment claim?
The elements of the claim need to show that it was based on someone’s gender, race, or other protected category, and that it was also offensive, unprovoked, and severe enough to affect someone’s daily work environment. As previously mentioned, this may require multiple forms of evidence to show a pattern of abuse and bias against an employee for reasons tied to their gender or sexuality. A sexual harassment lawyer can give specific information based on your story and the structure of your workplace to help make a strong case against those responsible, as well as ask for the right types of evidence to help expedite the claim.
Speak with a sexual harassment lawyer today in the Boca Raton area
If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment at your current position or in the recent past, the best course of action is to retain an attorney to discuss your situation and represent you in court if necessary. The Law Offices of Gary A. Costales, P.A. represents clients throughout South Florida, with offices conveniently located in downtown Miami and Boca Raton.