Sexual Harassment – Columbus, OH
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment under Federal law is generally defined as unwanted sexual contact of two main types:
(a) quid pro quo harassment, which occurs when employment or advancement is conditioned on the submission to unwelcome sexual advances; or
(b) unwelcome sexual conduct that is severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive work environment for the employee.
Any person who works for any company can sue for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment does not have to be perpetrated by a member of the opposite sex. Both male and female employees are also protected from sexual harassment by a member of the same sex.
Acts of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is not only defined by physical touching. It has been found to include a large range of inappropriate behaviors, including:
- Requests for Sexual Favors
- Unwanted Sexual Advances or Propositions
- Verbal Conducts, Slurs or Derogatory Comments
- Comments About a Person's Body, Appearance or Sexual Activity
If sexual harassment permeates an employee's work environment, that employee may have a claim for sexual harassment, even if the harassing conduct is not directed at the employee personally but occurs in the employee's presence.
However, whether the harassment is directed at the employee or someone else, for the plaintiff to be able to recover, they must establish that the harassment was severe or pervasive. The court will look at the following:
- Frequency of the Conduct
- Severity of the Conduct
- Whether the Conduct was Physically Threatening, Humiliating or an Offensive Utterance
- Whether the Conduct Reasonably Interfered with the Employee's Work Performance
Many times plaintiffs prevail in a "he said/she said" case, if the plaintiff is more credible than the perpetrator. However, it always helps if there are other witnesses to the sexual harassment or evidence that the perpetrator harassed other employees.
The law strictly prohibits an employer from retaliating against anyone who has opposed practices of sexual harassment and/or discrimination or has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding involving sexual harassment. If the employer retaliates, the employee has yet another cause of action against the employer.
Tips to Protecting Your Rights
To protect your rights if you have been sexually harassed, it is usually wise to seek the advice of a sexual harassment attorney immediately. If you want to try to work it out within your company first, you should consult your employee handbook and procedure manual to learn of the appropriate way to report sexual harassment within your company. If there is no manual and the company has a human resource department, it is generally smart to report the harassment to human resources. Any report of sexual harassment to your company should always be in writing and detail all of the facts.
An employee can bring a sexual harassment claim against a company while they are still working for the company. Because the statute of limitations in sexual harassment cases is not very clearly defined, an employee should move quickly to find an attorney if they feel they have been sexually harassed. It is important that he administrative claims are filled out properly.
With 29 years of experience, Robert D. Erney has successfully handled many sexual harassment claims that led to either settlement through negotiations or through litigation. If you would like to discuss your potential sexual harassment claim, contact Robert D. Erney and Associates today.