The Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act makes it illegal for anyone to discriminate against someone due to their gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation. Unlike other states, the Act governs any public or private employer regardless of size, and also includes labor unions. As a Vermont resident, you are also protected against sexual harassment in the workplace due to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
If you think you are a victim
Sexual harassment isn’t about someone telling a joke that offends another worker once, or even once in a while. It is when someone systematically and pervasively uses intimidating and threatening behaviors to the extent that it hinders you from performing at work. If the behaviors are repetitious and make you uncomfortable enough that it affects your ability to advance in your career, then you are working in a hostile work environment, which is considered sexual harassment.
There are many behaviors that are both offensive and constitute sexual harassment. Examples include inappropriate touching, derogatory remarks about someone’s gender, offensive sexual jokes, lewd acts or sounds, touching without consent and explicit sexual material in the office.
Sometimes sexual harassment doesn’t have to be repetitious; it can be a single request or act. If someone who has the power to interfere with your work position propositions you for a sexual favor and makes it known that your compliance can affect your job, that is considered “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Along the same lines, if someone who is in an authority position requests a sexual act and promises a work perk in return, that is also quid pro quo harassment, and is something that you can file a claim for.
Do I need a lawyer if I am being sexually harassed?
Your place of employment should have guidelines about how sexual harassment claims are handled at work. But you might want to hire a Vermont sexual harassment lawyer to ensure that you are following the proper procedure, in case you later need to take your employer to court. The first step is to make both the person who is harassing you and your supervisor or boss aware of the sexual misconduct by filing a formal complaint.
A Vermont sexual harassment attorney will also help you file a complaint at the federal level through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Should you need to proceed to trial, you will want to have the proper paper trail and documentation to prove the sexual harassment.
Is my employer liable for sexual harassment?
Yes, your employer can be held liable in a court of law. But you must prove that they were aware of the sexual misconduct and that they did nothing to address it or to ameliorate the situation. You must also show that it was their failure to act that led to you incur damages. In sexual harassment cases, you are entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are things like pain and suffering and lost wages. They can also include perks that you didn’t get or bonuses that you are entitled to but never received.
The most important thing to do to get your harasser to stop is to stand up and speak up. Filing a formal complaint is imperative to stopping the abuse, and if it falls on deaf ears, to initiate a lawsuit to recover your damages. The best way to protect yourself and your status at work is to consult USAttorneys.com; they can connect you with an experienced Vermont sexual harassment attorney to go through the specifics of your case. The attorney will guide you to ensure that you have the taken the proper steps to make the harassment stop and to get back to a productive and safe work environment. Contact them today to go over your sexual harassment claim.