Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Dealing with workplace sexual harassment can be traumatizing. Sexual harassment in the workplace makes what’s supposed to be a professional environment uncomfortable or even hostile.

If you believe you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment, Dyer, Garofalo, Mann, & Schultz is here to help you file a harassment complaint. It helps to have a legal team with intimate knowledge of employment law on your side when you’re contemplating whether or not to file a harassment complaint.

As someone who has suffered workplace sexual harassment, you can claim damages for your pain and suffering after you file a harassment complaint. It’s important to know what harassment is and certain aspects of employment law before you file a harassment complaint.

Let’s Begin.

What is Harassment?

Multiple forms of harassment can take place in an office or work environment. Harassment is a form of discrimination, bullying, or unwelcome physical or verbal interaction, according to employment law. Harassment in the workplace is unbecoming conduct by one individual to offend or disparage someone else. It can happen on company property or any work-related location. According to employment law, the person who made the offensive action or remark knew or ought to have reasonably known that such an action would cause harm.

Harassment ranges from threats to humiliation and can be based on anything from race to religion and sex to marital status, among other factors. You don’t have to be a direct target of the harassment either. If harassment occurs and creates a negative environment that’s difficult to perform in, that is grounds for a complaint. Employment law such as human rights codes or workers’ compensation acts offers legal protections for victims. Also, employment law imposes obligations on employers regarding policies and procedures concerning workplace sexual harassment.

Is Sexual Harassment a Crime?

Sexual harassment in the workplace may sound like a crime, but it actually isn’t. Under federal law, sexual harassment in the workplace or elsewhere is not a crime, yet it is deemed illegal in every state. Sexual harassment is a civil violation, originating from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. From a legal perspective, sexual harassment is only deemed illegal in professional settings.

Because sexual harassment in the workplace is deemed as a civil wrong, you can subsequently file a harassment complaint against the perpetrator or employer in civil court. Some acts of sexual harassment violate criminal statutes, and some don’t. For sexual harassment in the workplace to be ruled as a crime, it must be an egregious act.

For example, rape will result in a criminal charge against the perpetrator, and the victim can file a harassment complaint against the perpetrator’s employer. Workplace sexual harassment also becomes criminal if assault and battery took place, meaning you were the victim of intentional, offensive physical contact. Other cases when workplace sexual harassment becomes a crime, and you can file a harassment complaint, include showing child pornography or falsely imprisoning another person. If your harasser is a co-worker who’s engaging in stalking behavior, then that also is considered a criminal activity.

What Constitutes Workplace Sexual Harassment

According to the high courts, there are two forms of illegal workplace sexual harassment. In each case, the behavior must be unwelcome to be deemed unlawful, and you should file a harassment complaint.

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One form is called quid pro quo harassment. Such scenarios involve someone in a position of power demanding that you tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace, which may come in the form of groping and sexual favors to keep your job or for other job benefits. Workplace sexual harassment only needs to happen once to be deemed illegal. File a harassment complaint as soon as possible and your chances of winning your lawsuit improve.

The other form of sexual harassment in the workplace is much more subjective. The behavior displayed in this case must be severe enough that it creates an untenable work environment for the alleged victim. However, because there is no definition as to what makes harassment severe enough to create such an environment, the conditions are open to interpretation.

Judges and juries are left to decipher several moving parts such as how sexual harassment in the workplace took place and if multiple people participated, among other things. While considering whether or not to file a harassment complaint, you should know that lawsuits describing this form of workplace sexual harassment are likely to be dismissed by federal judges. Working with a lawyer who understands employment law and harassment claims can help your case.

How to File a Harassment Complaint Against Someone

You must be prepared for a complicated process when you file a harassment complaint against someone who committed sexual harassment in the workplace.

First, you should write down the details of your workplace sexual harassment, including information about the incident, any evidence you have, and witness information. Then, you should review your company policies, understanding employment law and knowing the channels through which to file a harassment complaint. Your employer should have employment law mechanisms in place so that victims can file a harassment complaint with the company’s human resources department. Company policies must comply with employment law to protect harassed parties and hold accused parties accountable.

If sexual harassment in the workplace continues, report it to your supervisor or a higher-ranking individual if the perpetrator is the supervisor. Before going to the law, file a harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will then investigate your claim.

If the EEOC can’t resolve the issue, then you need to take your grievance for sexual harassment in the workplace to civil court and file a harassment complaint.


Quick Answers

Can Someone Go to Jail for Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace may sound like a crime, but it actually isn’t. Under federal law, sexual harassment in the workplace or elsewhere is not a crime, yet it is deemed illegal in every state. Sexual harassment is a civil violation, originating from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. From a legal perspective, sexual harassment is only deemed illegal in professional settings.

Learn More About Sexual Harassment


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