According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Sexual harassment can occur in any workplace.
Sexual harassment is against the law in Texas, and sexual harassment is a violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is possible for a court to find that one comment is sexual harassment. But, if the behavior is frequent and severe, it is more likely to match up with the typical characteristics of sexual harassment.
Who Can be a Victim of Sexual Harassment?
Unfortunately, anyone can become a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Many people believe that only women can be victims of sexual harassment, but this is simply not the case. Men and women can be victims of sexual harassment, and the victim does not have to be the opposite sex from the harasser.
People who witness sexual harassment can also be victims in this situation. In fact, the victim can be anyone who was negatively affected by the offensive conduct.
Who is the typical Sexual Harasser?
The traditional conception of sexual harassment involves a female victim and a male harasser. The truth is that the harasser, just like the victim can be male or female. There are many different people that can be the harasser in a sexual harassment situation. This means that there is no “typical harasser,” and the harasser can be any gender.
Possible harassers include a victim’s supervisor, a co-worker of the victim, a supervisor in another department, an agent of the employer, or a customer of the victim’s employer.
What are the different types of Sexual Harassment?
There are two different types of sexual harassment. The first type of sexual harassment is known as “quid pro quo.” This type of harassment occurs when the victim (usually the employee) must perform sexual favors in order to retain employment.
For example, if a supervisor threatens to blackmail his secretary unless he performs a sexual favor, that supervisor has likely committed quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Another type of sexual harassment is often referred to as “hostile work environment.” This type of sexual harassment occurs when a hostile work environment has been created by the harasser such that the victim does not feel comfortable coming to work. Often, the hostile work environment is created due to organizational culture of the workplace. Harassers feel as though their behavior is acceptable, and victims are afraid to speak out.
What Should I do if I am a Victim of Sexual Harassment?
Many people face sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can cause depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. All of these conditions are very serious. You should seek medical attention if necessary to assist you in coping with the aftermath of the sexual harassment that you faced.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you should speak out. First, inform the harasser that their conduct is offensive. In order for conduct to qualify as sexual harassment, it must be unwelcome. If you have to file a lawsuit against the harasser, it will be easier to prove that the conduct was unwelcome if you inform the harasser that their conduct is not welcome before the court case.
You should also report the issue to management or human resources. This is important because management may be able to remedy the situation before you have to take legal action. It is also important because when you report your complaint to management or human resources you will be able to have documentation of your harassment that you can use in the event you file a lawsuit.
Does the Victim have to complain in order for the Conduct to be Sexual Harassment?
As discussed previously, it is recommended that you file a complaint against the harasser with your manager or the human resources department. However, you do not need to complain in order for the behavior to be considered sexual harassment.
If you feel that you cannot talk to the harasser directly, bring this issue to the attention of the human resources department. You may be able to file an anonymous complaint.
Why do some Victims of Sexual Harassment Stay Silent?
This situation normally occurs when the harasser is in a position of authority over the victim. In this case, victims are fearful of possible repercussions if they speak out.
If you find yourself in this situation it is important to remember that you are protected from retaliation. In other words, if you complain about sexual harassment in the workplace, your employer cannot retaliate against you by firing or suspending you. This protection also extends to demotions and the hiring process.
What Should I do if I want to Sue my Harasser?
If you feel that you need to initiate a lawsuit against the harasser or the company you work for, you should speak to an attorney about your experience. The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy offer free case consultations.
How Can a Lawyer Assist me with my Sexual Harassment Claim?
Lawyers can assist sexual harassment victims by filing lawsuits against the harassers and the victim’s employer. The lawsuit will be designed to give the victim an opportunity to receive compensation for any damages that the victim suffered as a result of the sexual harassment. For example, if the victim suffered from depression after the sexual harassment a lawyer will fight to help that victim obtain reimbursement for any medical expenses they suffered.
Lawyers may also be able to assist a victim that was wrongfully fired re-instated, and lawyers fight to ensure that when the victim returns to work she is returning to a harassment free environment.
You deserve to work in an environment that is free from harassment, contact the lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy to take a stand to end the sexual harassment you are facing.