The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act makes it explicitly illegal to discriminate against anyone based on their sex or their sexual orientation. There is also a provision in the Act that addresses the prohibition of sexual harassment. The Act governs both private and public companies and organizations of any size. It also makes it against the law for someone to be retaliated against at work for filing a sexual harassment complaint. In Wisconsin, workers are also protected against sexual harassment at the federal level through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
How do I know if I can make a claim for sexual harassment?
It is almost impossible to be in a work environment where you are never offended by what other workers say. But sexual harassment is something different. When someone sexually harasses you, they use systematic and pervasive behaviors that are meant to intimidate and threaten you to the extent that they can interfere with your ability to perform or limit you from excelling at your position. It is the repetitive nature of the behavior that defines it as being “harassing” versus just being generally offended.
To prove that you are the victim of sexual harassment, you must also be able to show that it isn’t just you being overly sensitive. You must prove in a court of law – if it comes to that – that any “reasonable” person would be equally offended by the behavior.
Offensive sexual behaviors can come in many forms. Examples of sexually harassing misconduct are nonconsensual touching, inappropriate sexual comments or remarks, unwelcome sexual advances, sexual innuendos, explicit sexual material and lewd sounds or gestures.
There are occasions where sexual harassment does not have to be repetitious, but can consist of a single request for a sexual favor. If someone who holds power over your work position propositions you for a sexual favor, and they make it abundantly clear that your job depends on your compliance, that is quid pro quo sexual harassment and it is against the law. Quid pro quo harassment can also occur if someone in authority offers you a perk or advancement for engaging in a sexual act.
How to hold your employer accountable
To make the harassment stop, you must hold your employer accountable by making both them and your harasser aware that the inappropriate conduct is happening and demanding that it stop. It is important to file a formal complaint at work to have documentation that you made your employer aware. A Wisconsin sexual harassment lawyer can help guide you through the process to make sure that you have what you need should you have to escalate the case to a lawsuit.
Your Wisconsin sexual harassment attorney will also want to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission so that you create a paper trail and have the necessary documentation if the case goes to court.
Is my employer liable if I incur damages?
If you can prove that you let your employer know that the misconduct was happening, and not only did they do nothing to ameliorate the situation, but their failure to act led to you being damaged either monetarily or emotionally, then you can sue them in a court of law. If you can prove all three conditions, then you are entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages.
If you are a victim of harassment in the workplace, the best way to handle it is to consult USAttorneys.com; where you can consult with and hire an experienced Wisconsin sexual harassment lawyer who will guide you through the complaint process and ensure that you are taking all the necessary steps to protect yourself and your position in the company.