The term sexual harassment applies to any situation in which a person feels he or she has been treated in a sexually inappropriate manner, usually in a workplace or other setting where refusal to comply with or raising objection to inappropriate treatment can result in negative consequences. Sexual harassment can take on many forms and result in serious repercussions. Many places of business aim to prevent sexual harassment by educating employees on sexual harassment acts and punishments.
Common types of sexual harassment include unwelcome requests for sexual favors, sexual advances, sexual jokes, lewd acts, talk of superiority of one gender, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It can occur between superiors and their subordinates, among senior or junior employees, and between people of the same gender. A sexual harassment victim need not be the actual person to whom the conduct was directed; anyone offended by the behavior can claim harassment. Although most cases of sexual harassment involve men victimizing women, males are not always the perpetrators of sexual harassment; they can also be victims.
Two specific legal types of sexual harassment have been defined: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo translates to “this for that;” in a sexual harassment case, it is used to define a sexual request that is made suggesting that the victim will be somehow compensated for complying with the request. A hostile work environment created by sexual harassment means that the victim fears going to work because of intimidating or harassing behavior.
The key word in defining sexual harassment is “unwelcome.” Sexual gestures, advances, contact or suggestions welcomed by the receiver do not constitute sexual harassment. A person who feels they are being harassed must make it known that they feel uncomfortable with such treatment. Because people often have different comfort levels, what one person may consider a harmless compliment, another may construe as a harassing comment. Similarly, a joke that may be funny in one context may be offensive in another. By making discomfort known, a victim of sexual harassment draws the line between harmless and hurtful, funny and offensive. In workplaces where formal complaint systems are in place, victims of sexual harassment may make their discomfort known without any one-on-one confrontation with the harasser.
A type of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment violates part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and is therefore punishable by federal law. Many states also have laws against sexual harassment, and many companies have their own punishments for offenders of sexual harassment policies. The first step towards ending the treatment is to speak up, first through company proceedings, and second, if necessary, to legal professionals. Thorough documentation of the events will help in any sexual harassment case.
Sexual harassment cases
Sexual harassment cases occur when any type of unwelcome sexually-oriented behaviors are committed in the workplace or educational environment that affect a victim’s employment (or education) or create a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment cases are a violation of a person’s civil rights under title seven of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which protects people from discrimination in the workplace.
Sexual harassment cases can be perpetrated by people of either sex against a member of either sex. Sexual harassment cases can involve the person who is directly being harassed or any other employee who is significantly and unreasonably affected by sexual harassment cases.
Sexual harassment cases are constituted by offensive sexual behavior that significantly alters a person’s work conditions or employment or that creates a hostile or abusive atmosphere. This can include unwelcome sexual materials, remarks, gestures, coercion, attention, names, insults, propositions, innuendos, and more.
When sexual harassment cases first occur, it is important for the victim to make clear that the sexual behavior is unwelcome. Sexual harassment cases should be reported to a supervisor whenever possible. It is ultimately an employer’s responsibility to prevent sexual harassment cases and to provide adequate recourse for victims who file complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace. In some sexual harassment cases, especially those that are perpetrated by a supervisor, it may be difficult for the victim to receive support and pursue action without legal counsel.
There are qualified attorneys who specialize in sexual harassment cases. These legal professionals have a detailed working knowledge of both federal and state laws that apply to sexual harassment cases. An attorney can help protect and maximize a victim’s interests in sexual harassment cases.
In some cases, an attorney may be able to take the proper steps to ensure that sexual harassment in the workplace is properly identified and stopped. In other cases, an attorney can help a victim to file a complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A good sexual harassment lawyer is also aware of state-specific sexual harassment laws that may allow a victim of sexual harassment to receive worker’s compensation, monetary restitution for personal injuries, and punitive damages in sexual harassment cases.
If you feel that you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may wish to speak to a legal professional who can determine your eligibility in filing a lawsuit. A qualified attorney understands the circumstances that constitute valid sexual harassment cases and can protect and maximize your interests in your sexual harassment case.
Sexual Harassment Laws
Sexual harassment laws were first added to federal law when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Title seven of the Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for an employer to “discriminate against any individual with respect to his [or her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,” on the basis of that person’s sex, race, national origin, religion, or color. This was the first time that it was made explicitly illegal to discriminate against individuals in the workplace on the basis of these factors. This act also set the foundation for further development of sexual harassment laws.
Since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment laws have continued to be defined and refined through interpretations made by the Supreme Court. Federal sexual harassment laws allow for victims to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC investigates claims of sexual harassment in the workplace and educational system. In 1998, the Supreme Court set out two specific definitions of sexual harassment law violations.
“Quid pro quo” sexual harassment occurs when an individual’s employment is made contingent upon the desired reaction to sexually-oriented conduct. Sexual harassment laws do not require that a harasser blatantly offer an ultimatum to his victim; rather the implications of their requests can be more subtle and still constitute a violation of sexual harassment laws. “Hostile environment” sexual harassment occurs when sexually-oriented conduct that is pervasive or severe creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
Federal sexual harassment laws cover any victim who is an employee of a company with fifteen or more employees. Employees from smaller organizations are unable to seek relief through federal laws, however many states have enacted sexual harassment laws that extend protection to employees of smaller organizations. Ultimately, both state and federal sexual harassment laws hold an employer liable for sexual harassment. Employers are urged to have sexual harassment policies, a means for complaints and grievances to be processed, and a protocol for handling sexual harassment claims.
There are many situations that constitute a violation of sexual harassment laws. Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace have the legal right to file a claim and put a stop to inappropriate sexual conduct. People who experience sexual harassment should make it clear to the perpetrator that their actions are unwelcome. When the perpetrator is in a position of power, which is often the case, it may be difficult for a victim to stop sexual harassment alone. Another proactive step that a victim can take is to follow company procedures for filing a claim when sexual harassment laws are violated.
Consulting with an attorney who specializes in sexual harassment laws and relevant claims can also be a very important step in stopping sexual harassment. A qualified attorney can advise you of your legal rights and options in a sexual harassment case. An attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of sexual harassment.