The Montana Human Rights Act is a specific law that strictly prohibits anyone from discriminating against an individual in the workplace due to their sex. Unlike other states that have guidelines about the minimum number of workers for an employer that they govern, the Montana Human Rights Act not only encompasses all workers (both private and public); it also has provisions to ensure that it is illegal to retaliate against anyone who makes a claim for sexual harassment.
In Montana, there are various ways that a person can be discriminated against and times when that discrimination can be labeled sexual harassment. “Quid pro quo” is one situation where a supervisor or boss will make a request for some sexual act or favor. They also make it implicitly or explicitly known that if an employee doesn’t comply with the request, they could face negative consequences. It can also be that the employer makes a request in return for advancement or a promotion. Both instances would qualify as quid pro quo sexual harassment cases.
Another kind of harassment is when a worker makes the environment so hostile that it inhibits other employees from performing in their capacity. A hostile workplace isn’t one where an employee causes just one incident that makes someone uncomfortable. It is a systematic and pervasive way that someone repeatedly threatens, intimidates, or offends someone enough to hinder their ability to work.
Behaviors that can create a hostile work atmosphere are things like unwelcome sexual advances, sexual innuendos, derogatory comments, nonconsensual touching, and lewd sounds or jokes. Any misconduct that is meant to make someone feel sexually threatened or intimidated falls under the category of sexual harassment.
What to do to make the harassment stop
There are guidelines that every company should have in place for handling a sexual harassment claim. If you are being harassed, the first place to start is to let your supervisor or boss and the harasser know that their behavior is offensive and demand that it stop. Although retaliation is illegal against anyone who files a claim for sexual harassment, it is a good idea to hire a Montana sexual harassment lawyer to protect you and to cover your bases.
If your employer does nothing to make the situation better once you have made the behavior known, then you do have the opportunity to make a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at the federal level. You can do it alone, but since it can be complex, having your Montana sexual harassment attorney guide you through the claim process is the best way to get it filed correctly.