Rhode Island Sexual Harassment Law
There are times when a little banter at work makes the atmosphere light and engaging, and others when the banter isn’t fun and games; instead, it is offensive and creating a hostile work environment. If the playful nature of a co-worker or supervisor is anything less than engaging and fun, and is more like threatening and intimidating, then you are likely the victim of sexual harassment. You don’t have to be made to feel uncomfortable at work. In Rhode Island, you do have many resources to make the offensive behavior stop and feel comfortable when you walk through the office doors.
According to the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act, it is strictly prohibited to discriminate against anyone due to their sex, their gender expression or identity, or their sexual orientation. The Act governs organizations and companies that employ 50 or more workers, and it also encompasses sexual harassment. For those workers who are employed in a smaller company or organization, you are protected against sexual harassment by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You don’t have to suffer in silence for fear of retaliation; it is also illegal for any company to retaliate against an employee who makes a claim for sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment outlined
In most cases, someone telling an offensive joke once in a while does not constitute sexual harassment. To prove sexual harassment, you must show that the behavior was both systematic and pervasive enough to interfere with your ability to perform at work. The misconduct must be repetitious, threatening, and intimidating enough to create a work atmosphere that hinders your advancement or performance.
You must also prove that it isn’t just you who is offended by the behavior. To make a claim for sexual harassment, you must prove the legal constraint of “reasonableness.” That means you have to show that if any “reasonable” person were in the same position, they would also be offended by the behavior.
A vast number of behaviors can constitute sexual harassment, which includes sexual innuendos, derogatory remarks or comments related to sex or gender, explicit sexual material, unwelcome sexual advances, inappropriate touching without consent, and lewd sounds.
You also might be the victim of sexual harassment if someone asks you for a sexual favor in exchange for some work-related perk, or they make it clear that you could suffer a negative consequence in your work position. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when someone who holds power or authority over your position within an organization makes it clear that compliance with their sexual request could be met with advancement, and noncompliance will cause detriment to your standing.
How to protect yourself and make the harassment stop
If you are being sexually harassed there are steps that you have to take to file a claim. Your place of employment should have specific guidelines in place to deal with a sexual harassment claim. Following the process exactly as required is imperative for you to get the harassment to stop, and if you can’t, to have the groundwork to initiate a lawsuit.
To protect your position and to ensure that you are doing everything you should, it Is also a good idea to hire a Rhode Island sexual harassment lawyer. Should the harassment not end even after you make your employer aware, you may need to file a lawsuit. A Rhode Island sexual harassment attorney can help guide you through the process. You will also want to file a claim at the federal level through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to cover all your bases.
Do I have recourse if the harassment doesn’t stop?
If you make both your harasser and your boss aware that you are being sexually harassed and it doesn’t stop, and you suffer damages as a result, you can hold your employer liable. In sexual harassment lawsuits, you are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages. But having the proper documentation in place is going to be critical to proving your lawsuit, which is why it’s a good idea to consult USAttorneys.com today. They can help you find an experienced Rhode Island sexual harassment attorney who can work with you to determine the best way to ensure that you are protecting your position and to get back to work.