Sexual harassment in the workplace has been a topic of debate in many ethics workshops, court cases, and around staff rooms. The lines between flirtation and sexual harassment can often get blurred, especially if people are uneducated about their rights in the workplace. Men and women alike can experience small indignation’s, immoral actions, and even physical discomfort at work, but many are too afraid to speak up. Stay informed about your rights in the workplace, and learn to recognize what qualifies as sexual harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
In the workplace, sexual harassment can be defined as any unwanted or inappropriate behaviors or touching between any two people in the work setting. Enticing or demanding submission to unwelcome sexual advances is explicitly labeled sexual harassment. An abusive work environment created by any unwanted sexual activity also qualifies as sexual harassment. Both sexes are protected against sexual harassment by law – including harassment cases involving two members of the same sex.
Sexual harassment does not have to be actual touching; it can also be classified as any requests for sexual favors, sexual propositioning, verbal slurs or derogatory comments, and unwanted comments about physical appearance or sexual activity. Any of these actions or words can qualify as workplace sexual harassment, regardless of age, sex, and company position.
What Are My Rights?
In the workplace, each person is entitled to certain rights – physical, emotional, and ethical. Sexual harassment directly violates these rights by taking them away, leaving the victim out of control. You have the right to protect your personal space, as well as the right to complain if a fellow worker has said or done something that made you feel uncomfortable. You also have the right to make your situation known – Title VII forbids employers from punishing employees for complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace.
You don’t have to take your complaint to the boss. Most workplaces have a human resources department that is qualified to hear and act on sexual harassment complaints in the workplace. Whether you want to take your case to court or simply want the offending person to be aware of the problem, your HR representative will be able to act as your intermediary.
The outcome of making a complaint will vary – it could result in no action taken at all or a large-scale investigation into the company. If an internal investigation doesn’t amount to anything, or if your HR rep or employer doesn’t take what you’re saying seriously, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. Even if you don’t want to take a case to court, the expert advice of a sexual harassment attorney can help you navigate your options.
Contacting a professional sexual harassment attorney is your first step in understanding your rights in a specific situation. A consult with an attorney experienced in sexual harassment suits can provide you with help moving forward and can explain what to explain as a result of a complaint. Erney Law has successfully dealt with several sexual harassment claims, all of which led to settlements. Contact us for help today.