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What Can I Do If I Experienced Sexual Harassment at Work?

What Can I Do If I Experienced Sexual Harassment at Work?

Under the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature that unreasonably interferes with a person’s job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Offensive sexual jokes or inappropriate physical contact are just a few examples of what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace.

There are laws in place at both the federal and state level to protect workers from experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination.

Different Types of Sexual Harassment

There are two kinds of sexual harassment that are recognized under Title VII:

  • Quid Pro Quo
  • Hostile Work Environment

When a person in authority demands their subordinates to tolerate sexual harassment as a condition of getting or keeping their job or job benefits, it is a form of quid pro quo harassment. A pattern of this type of harassment qualifies as a hostile work environment.

Courts use the following elements to determine if a hostile work environment claim is valid:

  • Was the conduct verbal, physical, or both?
  • What was the frequency of the conduct?
  • Was the conduct hostile or patently offensive?
  • Was the alleged harasser a co-worker or supervisor?
  • Did others join in perpetrating the harassment?
  • Was the harassment directed at more than one person or was the victim singled out?

Plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases must show the following:

  • They believe the workplace conduct was hostile, abusive, or offensive.
  • A reasonable person in their position would also believe the workplace conduct was hostile, abusive, or offensive.

How Can I Stop Sexual Harassment at Work?

You should first try to stop the harassment yourself. If your efforts do not work, review your employee handbook or manual and see what policies your company has regarding sexual harassment and where you can take your complaint to. Make sure to document every instance of sexual harassment that you experience, this will make your case stronger.

If you are uncomfortable approaching your harasser, you should write a brief letter or email that informs them to stop their behavior. If you are still uncomfortable with this approach, inform a supervisor about your complaints. Make sure to use your company email for all correspondences regarding sexual harassment and document all responses that you receive.

If the harassment continues after you have taken the steps above, you should immediately consult with an experienced attorney to discuss what legal actions can be taken against your harasser.

Contact our Hollister employment law attorney to schedule a free case consultation today.

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