WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Everyone should feel safe at work; sexual harassment breeches employees’ rights to a safe, hazard-free and hostility-free work environment. Whether you realize it or not, sexual harassment is more than unwanted advancements – it can be anything from a demeaning joke to inappropriate touching. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is unlawful to harass someone because of their sex. This includes unwanted advances, requests for sexual favors and any type of verbal or physical harassment that is sexually demeaning.
Although this type of behavior is illegal, it remains a prevalent issue in the modern workplace. Additionally, there are many, commonly believed myths about sexual harassment that are simply not true. For instance, people may assume that only women are the target of harassment. In reality, men and women are both subject to harassment. Similarly, men and women may be harassed my member of the same sex. Sometimes, your employer can be held partially liable for any harassment you endure, unless your employer is able to demonstrate that he/she took adequate steps to prevent the harassment.
Factors to Consider
For a work environment to be considered “hostile,” a variety of factors come into play. For instance, how long has the inappropriate behavior been going on? If the behavior is not severe and has only been reported once or twice, the case may not be seriously considered. However, if the harassment is severe and ongoing, the work environment may be labeled hostile very quickly. Additionally, the conduct of the alleged victim is extremely important.
Did he/she attempt to stop the behavior? For example, if the alleged victim willingly participated in sexual behavior, inappropriate banter, it may be difficult to prove that the victim was actually harassed. Finally, common sense has some bearing on the outcome of the case. If a reasonable person would not have considered the defendants behavior to be harassment, it may be hard to construct a convincing case against him/her.
There are a number of popular myths regarding sexual harassment. For instance, many people believe that a woman can only be harassed by a man. This is not true. A woman could be sexually harassed by another woman. Similarly, a man could be harassed by another male. In the past the United State Supreme Court has recognized illegal harassment between people of the same gender. However, it should be noted that the vast majority of sexual harassment cases involve men harassing women in the workplace.
Interestingly, sexual harassment is not limited to your job. Many people assume that sexual harassment cases are limited to employment law: this is false. Men and women have been harassed by teachers, professors, and individuals with authority in school systems. In the past, students have harassed their teachers. Thus, harassment is not always initiated by someone in authority. Similarly, people tend to assume that sexual harassment is only committed by people in authority. In reality, anyone can be victimized -regardless of authority or gender.
A harasser can be your coworker, your boss, an agent, client, or other work-related individual. Generally speaking, the most important factor to consider in these cases is whether or not your employer was aware of the harassment and tried, to the best of his/her ability to keep your work environment secure and hazard-free. If you have been victimized by a harasser, talk to an attorney from Crary Buchanan today. At the firm, we are ready to defend your rights as an employee and give you the top-not legal assistance you need – the sooner we hear form the fast we can begin working on your case. Call today!