Handling Sexual Harassment: Important Facts and Advice for Employees
Sexual harassment is a problem that, unfortunately, affects many American workers. It’s important for employees to know their rights, know what they don’t have to tolerate and learn how to seek recourse if they have been sexually harassed.
Workplace sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal act is binding for employers with more than 15 employees. This includes state or municipal government employers as well. According to the EEOC, sexual harassment can occur in several ways. Under Title VII, harassment includes:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal or physical behavior that is sexual in nature, which has a direct or implied effect on the employee’s employment
- Sexual behaviors that unreasonably affect a worker’s ability to perform his or her job
- Behaviors that make the workplace a hostile, intimidating or offensive place to work
In order for these types of unsavory behaviors to become illegal harassment, the offending party’s advances or behaviors must be unwelcome. Under the Act, offending harasser’s may be direct supervisors, an employer agent, an indirect supervisor working in the organization, a co-worker or even a non-employee that the victim encounters in the course of their normal job duties.
Title VII Regulates Workers and Employers Regardless of Gender
When it comes to violations of federal employment law, sexual harassers may be either men or women. Likewise, the victim may also be either male or female. Employees are protected from same-sex harassment as well as opposite-sex harassment.
Stereotypes of harassment behaviors sometimes stop workers who have been victimized from reporting their abuse. A sexual harasser is not always male and the victim is not always female, though this is how most people imagine these scenarios. No matter what your gender or position may be, don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney if you believe you’ve been harassed.
What Do I Do if I Have Experienced Sexual Harassment?
If you’ve experienced sexual harassment at work, here are a few things you should do:
Tell the offender that you do not want their advances or behavior. Asking them to stop is the first step.
Then, the employee should follow the workplace process of filing a complaint or grievance with human resources or the proper person or department according to workplace policy.
Check to see if your employer has whistleblower protection policies in place.
Keep a written record of each incident, exactly what occurred and the date and time.
If the harassment does not stop, or if you are not satisfied with how your employer handled your complaint, contact a local employment attorney who represents workers, not companies. They will be able to listen to the facts of your case and tell you your best game plan.
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. represents Maryland employees who have experienced workplace sexual harassment. You don’t have to put up with inappropriate, harassing behavior in order to make your livelihood. By contacting the experienced Maryland employment lawyers at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., you can take the first step toward ensuring that you are safe in the workplace and that your rights are being protected.
Sexual harassment is serious. If you have any questions about sexual harassment, contact The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. today to talk about your situation. We take pride in protecting Maryland workers from the ills of sexual harassment. Call 410-514-6099 today.