Sexually Harassed at Work?
In my experience, by the time a victim speaks out about sexual harassment at work, they have experienced a significant amount of trauma. Many victims will question what led to the offensive behavior. Sadly, sometimes victims will blame themselves for somehow inviting unwanted harassment. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to an abuser or to speak up and report harassing behavior. Many victims are afraid of what might happen if they speak up.
- Will I lose my job?
- What affect will this have on my family?
- Will people at work treat me differently?
- Will human resources help me, or will they take the side of my harasser?
These are all valid questions, and you need a lawyer that is on your side that you can trust to help you navigate thru it.
While there are laws to protect you from retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, there can still be repercussions when a person comes forward and reports. Depending on your employer, a report of sexual harassment will almost always trigger an investigation into those allegations. It is important to know what your rights are when confronted with this situation.
I have been representing victims of sexual harassment for over 20 years. What most of us think of when we hear “sexual harassment,” is the typical male versus female, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal harassment of a sexual nature. Requests for sex in exchange for a raise or promotion is commonly referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment. The fact that this occurs at all in the workplace is disgraceful; however, it is not the only form of illegal sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can take many forms, but at its core, it is offensive behavior based on a person’s sex. Sexual harassment does not have to take place between people of the opposite sex. Victims can be male or female or non-binary. It can also include same sex harassment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as:
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” However, sexual harassment does not include simple teasing, or offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not of a serious nature. The harasser does not have to be a supervisor; it could be a co-worker, an agent of the company or even a non-employee.
If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is important to know your rights. As a lawyer who has represented numerous clients in this situation, I am able to guide you through the process and let you know what to expect if you decide to come forward. If you have questions about sexual harassment, or believe you or someone you know may be a victim, call me for a confidential evaluation of your case.
We can’t erase the pain of being a victim, but we can help you to move forward, and to take steps toward making real changes that will prevent it from happening to someone else.
Attorney with a Focus on Harassment in the Workplace