The West Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee based on their sex. It also governs the laws related to sexual harassment in the workplace and encompasses any company with more than 12 employees. At the federal level, West Virginian workers are also protected against sexual harassment due to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
When it is offensive and when it is sexual harassment
If you are in an office, there are going to be times when someone will say things that will offend you. Sexual harassment is different from just saying something offensive a couple of times or having a difficult personality. If someone is threatening, intimidating, or making you uncomfortable to the extent that you are incapable of working to your maximum potential, then they are creating a hostile work environment, and that is considered sexual harassment. The behaviors have to be egregious enough not just to make you uncomfortable, but to the extent that they would make any “reasonable” person in your situation uncomfortable, in order for you to make a claim for sexual harassment.
There is no standard definition of sexually harassing behaviors, but they are inappropriate behaviors that target someone’s sex. Examples of sexually harassing behaviors include inappropriate touching, sexual innuendos, derogatory sexual remarks or comments, lewd noises, gestures, or sexually explicit material.
To constitute sexual harassment, though, it doesn’t have always to be repetitive. There are times when just one inappropriate request is enough to file a complaint of sexual harassment. If a supervisor or someone in authority over your position asks for a sexual favor and makes it implicitly or explicitly known that compliance can affect your work status, that is quid pro quo sexual harassment. Also, if an authority figure at work offers you an advance or perk in exchange for you acquiescing to a sexual request, that is also quid pro quo harassment.
How to handle it and protect yourself
It is illegal for any employer to retaliate against someone who files a sexual harassment complaint, but to ensure that your position is secure, it is wise to hire a West Virginia sexual harassment lawyer. The next step is to let both your employer and the harasser know that the misconduct is happening and demand that it cease immediately. If there are specific procedures in place at your place of employment, it is imperative to follow them exactly as specified in case things need to be escalated in the future.
Your West Virginia sexual harassment attorney will also help you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the federal level. It is going to be imperative that you leave a paper trail and that you have the necessary documentation, should you need to resolve the matter in court.
What is my employer responsible for?
If the sexual harassment has not stopped, then you can hold your employer liable. To make them liable for both compensatory and punitive damages, you must be able to prove that they knew the sexual harassment was happening and they did nothing to address it. You also need to show that you suffered damages because they did nothing to ameliorate it. Damages can come in the form of lost wages, bonuses, being passed over for a promotion, or not getting work perks that you were entitled to.
To ensure that you can return to a safe and non-threatening place, consult USAttorneys.com today; they can connect you with an experienced West Virginia sexual harassment attorney who can make sure that you are following the proper steps so that you have the proper documentation in place if you need to escalate your sexual harassment case.