Despite efforts to the contrary, sexual harassment is far more prevalent in the workplace than many people realize. This is because the reality of sexual harassment is often different than many people think. Sexual harassment includes a much broader spectrum of behavior than you might expect, and laws against such conduct are intended to protect everyone in a wide variety of circumstances. If you are the victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, a Maryland sexual harassment attorney can review your case and help you understand your options.
Hostile Work Environment
It is first important to understand that an isolated incident does not necessarily qualify as sexual harassment. Instead, you need to prove that the behavior has created a “hostile work environment.” A hostile work environment is one where harassment has created an atmosphere that negatively affects your ability to do your job. The negative impact on your job performance could include the following:
- You feel uncomfortable
- You feel threatened or fearful
- You do not want to come to work
It can also include feeling like you have to tolerate or reciprocate the behavior to protect your job or if you have been denied promotions or other benefits because you refused to participate. Regardless, the fact that the impact on your job may be subjective doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.
It can sometimes be challenging to determine whether the atmosphere at your job would be considered a hostile work environment. If you have questions about unwanted behavior at your job, a Maryland sexual harassment attorney can review your case and determine whether you have a claim.
Manager-Employee Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment from a manager towards a subordinate employee is one of the most common forms of workplace sexual harassment. Any unwelcome conduct from a manager, supervisor, or another person in a higher position than the employee is prohibited by law. This can include the following types of behavior:
- Any unwelcome touching
- Grabbing, pinching, or slapping
- Sexual advances
- Requesting sexual favors in return for raises, promotions, or other employment benefits and opportunities
Victims of manager-employee sexual harassment often feel powerless. However, a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer can help you take the steps you need to take to protect your rights.
Sexual Harassment Between Co-Workers
Sexual harassment isn’t limited to employees being harassed by a superior - it includes sexual harassment between employees. If a coworker sexually harasses you, your employer may be held liable in certain situations. However, you must take action. You should start by informing your co-worker that their conduct makes you feel uncomfortable and ask them to stop in no uncertain terms.
The next step is to report the conduct to your supervisor. If they fail to take action to address the situation, you may be able to pursue a sexual harassment claim against your employer.
Males Can Also Be Victims of Sexual Harassment
When it comes to sexual harassment, most people immediately think of a male supervisor or employee harassing a female employee. While this is often the case, males can also be victims of sexual harassment, and statistics indicate an increasing number of males reporting being harassed in the workplace. Unfortunately, not all employers take sexual harassment towards males seriously. In fact, some employers may outright dismiss complaints concerning sexual harassment towards men.
All workers have equal rights under the law to be free from sexual harassment regardless of gender. If you are male and are a target of workplace sexual harassment, you should speak with a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible.
Same-Sex Sexual Harassment
Similar to sexual harassment towards men, same-sex sexual harassment is also often overlooked. Same-sex harassment isn’t limited to members of the LGBTQ community, either - any unwelcome conduct based on a person’s sex is prohibited. For example, one woman persistently denigrating another woman’s sexual proclivities could be considered sexual harassment. Such behavior is usually done to make someone feel uncomfortable or even want to quit their job. If you are the target of sexual harassment from someone of the same sex, a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer can help you understand your rights.
Sexual Harassment Includes a Broad Range of Conduct
Sexual harassment doesn’t always look the way people think it should. The laws against sexual harassment in the workplace address a much broader range of conduct than many people realize, including employers.
- Physical harassment includes touching, grabbing and sexual assault, as well as leering, sexual advances, or other actions characteristic of pursuing someone.
- Offensive or obscene gestures
- Requests for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits such as increased pay or promotion. The quid-pro-quo nature of the request can be either express or implied.
- Unwanted attention in the form of inappropriate photos, emails, or other communications. It can also include comments about your appearance, suggestive notes, innuendos, threats, or inappropriate compliments.
- Verbal sexual abuse such as catcalls, whistling, making sexual noises, inappropriate jokes, inquiring into your sex life, spreading sexual rumors, obscene language, and derogatory comments or slurs.
Overt sexual harassment is easy to identify, and victims often feel more confident in taking action. Unfortunately, the more subtle forms of sexual harassment often go unreported or unaddressed. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened at work due to harassment, trust your instincts and don’t let others tell you that you are being overly sensitive. You have a right to protection from sexual harassment in any form. A Maryland sexual harassment lawyer can provide some clarity and help you get control of the situation.
Contact Maryland Sexual Harassment Attorney J.W. Stafford Today
No one should have to dread going to work. Fortunately, you don’t have to grit your teeth and tolerate sexual harassment - you have rights. Maryland sexual harassment attorney J.W. Stafford has helped sexual harassment victims across the state of Maryland get the results they need. If you are being harassed, we can help - call us at 410-514-6099 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.