While there are many kinds of disagreements or conflicts in the workplace, there is a specific legal definition of sexual harassment. This is important because all lawsuits require certain elements of claims or criminal offenses to all be met in order to meet the relevant burden of proof and proceed with the case. These same rules apply to Sexual harassment in order to make a legitimate claim, so it helps to know what to look for.
The legal definition of harassment
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides the federal definition of harassment claims, which is similar to most state laws including Colorado. Harassment needs to be based on a protected characteristic such as race, religion, sex, or gender. To reach the level of a valid harassment claim, the conduct must be offensive and occur continually, and it must create a work environment that a normal person would consider hostile and abusive. Things like arguments or one time incidents generally do not rise to the level of harassment unless they are extremely severe in nature.
Other important points
There are also some related issues regarding harassment claims that may not be obvious. The harassment can involve any category of employees including someone’s manager, co-worker, or even others who have different affiliations to the organization. The victim also does not necessarily have to lose their job or suffer financial losses due to the harassment. Employers also have a duty to prevent this kind of behavior and they cannot retaliate against those who report harassment or other inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
Defenses to harassment claims
Workplaces do have a way of defending against harassment claims with their own employment attorneys, but this usually involved them taking corrective action as soon as the conduct becomes apparent. They need to make reasonable efforts to eliminate problems as they arise. However, cases that involve extreme forms of misconduct such as consistent unwanted sexual attention or physical touching can sound troubling to a jury, and a business may decide to settle the claim rather than being exposed to the negative publicity. An attorney can help negotiate a settlement claim that meets your financial expectations.
Fact intensive claims
Sexual harassment claims can also be very fact intensive, meaning the specifics of each situation will vary greatly and require legal analysis. This is why it is crucial to obtain concrete evidence of harassment through emails, documentation, or other means that can prove what happened. It is also important to speak with a lawyer about any specific instances of misconduct and try to preserve relevant information such as dates, times, and places where any important events took place. Because most claims will require a pattern of improper behavior it is best to be able to provide details about several situations where the victim was mistreated.
Learn more about sexual harassment claims from a local attorney
If you need to speak with a lawyer about sexual harassment or any other issues in the workplace in the Denver area, contact Anderson Barkley Attorneys at Law. They are experts in the field of labor and employment law.