When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, its economy was built on petroleum drilling, and the workforce was primarily male. Over time, the state’s economy has diversified, and so has its workforce. The more diversified workforce introduced a need for better and different employee protections, including against sexual harassment.
As an employee in Oklahoma, you should understand:
- What sexual harassment is
- Your right to a harassment-free workplace
- Your employer’s responsibility to protect you
Many resources are available online that can provide this information.
What Is Sexual Harassment in Oklahoma?
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual interest or behavior at your workplace. This sexual attention may be a condition of a job or job offer, it may affect your career opportunities or your ability to do your job, or it may add hostility or fear to the environment. In Oklahoma, this definition might apply only when a harasser is the owner of the business. You may need professional help with figuring out whether you have been harassed.
Oklahoma prohibits discrimination that is based on your gender (sex), race, nationality, age, religion, disability, and other characteristics. All employees are entitled to the same protection against sexual harassment, from Norman to Allen, from drilling sites to corporate offices.
- When a manager or the owner of a business is the harasser, the employer is legally accountable, regardless of whether the harassment has been reported and investigated.
- When a coworker or colleague is the harasser, the employer is liable if it knew about the harassment (or should have known) and did not try to correct the situation.
- When a non-employee (such as a customer or messenger at a worksite) is the harasser, the employer is liable.
Oklahoma and Federal Protections
The Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act forbids all employers (public and private) from discriminating against employees, job applicants, and independent contractors based on gender. The state’s Office of Civil Rights Enforcement is responsible for enforcing the law.
At the federal level, Title VII of the Federal Human Rights Act of 1964 protects workers against sexual harassment. It makes discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and nationality illegal. Employers are prohibited from hiring, promoting, firing, or compensating employees based on their gender.
You have 180 days from the date of the harassment to file a local complaint in Oklahoma, and you have 300 days from the date of harassment to file a federal complaint.
What If You Have Been Sexually Harassed?
You do not have to accept sexual harassment at work. You deserve a safe and fair workplace, and there are legal protections for you.
The first thing you can do is write down the details and dates of the harassment. The next thing you can do is report the harassment to your manager (or another trusted person in leadership at your workplace). If your employer does not investigate and stop the harassment, there are legal remedies available to you and legal professionals across Oklahoma who can support you.