It is illegal to harass anyone, male or female, because of that person's sex. In fiscal year 2011, 11,364 charges of sexual harassment were filed with the EEOC. Both women and men file sexual harassment-related charges each year.
Although sexual harassment is generally thought of as unwanted sexual advances, the conduct does not have to be overtly sexual in nature to amount to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can also include verbal insults or other offensive remarks about a person's sex, including jokes, derogatory statements, and slurs related to sex or gender. Other examples of illegal behavior include leering, unwanted touching, sending suggestive notes or emails, or other sex-related behaviors that make an employee feel uncomfortable.
Sexual harassment can occur if the harasser and victim are of the same sex or different sexes. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by a supervisor, coworker, or customer. Contact a lawyer to learn about your rights and responsibilities regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.If You Have Been Sexually Harassed
If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you should first file a complaint via your workplace's internal complaint system. Although it may be uncomfortable to raise a complaint with your boss, the law protects you from retaliation. Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from a hostile work environment and to respond to any complaints.
To make a valid claim for sexual harassment, an employee must be able to show that:
- he or she was targeted due to gender;
- he or she was subjected to unwanted conduct because of gender; and
- the unwanted conduct unreasonably interfered with his or her ability to perform her work, or created a hostile work environment.
If you feel that you have been sexually harassed, first tell the offender to stop. It is important to put the offending person on notice that the behavior is inappropriate and will not be tolerated.
If telling the offender to stop does not work, speak with a representative from your company's human resources office. Your employer needs to know that you have been subjected to sexual harassment. If your employer is aware of the situation and fails to take proper action to stop it, the employer can be found liable for creating a hostile work environment.
Contact an attorney to learn about your rights and responsibilities regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.Avoiding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The best way for an employer to avoid issues related to sexual harassment and hostile work environments is to focus on preventing unwelcome conduct in the first place. Clearly express to your employees that such conduct will not be accepted.
A hostile work environment can arise from sexual harassment or discriminatory behavior. If sexual harassment is so severe that the employee is unable to perform his or her job functions, the workplace may have become a hostile work environment.Contact an Atlanta Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you have questions or are involved in a dispute related to sexual harassment, contact John L. Mays. John L. Mays, Attorney at Law will explain your options and help you understand your rights.