Undergoing sexual harassment at work can be an intimidating, stressful, and uncomfortable experience. It can also be confusing if you feel you have been sexually harassed and feel unsure if the situation qualifies as sexual harassment. If you have been harassed at work, it’s also important that you know how to prove your case, and what to do if your place of employment doesn’t appropriately handle the situation.
Generally, there are two main types of sexual harassment — quid pro quo harassment and a hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo harassment generally occurs when a supervisor or individual in a position of authority at work demands sexual favors in exchange for career advancement or to avoid consequences at work. This can be extremely obvious in which your boss indicates sexual favors will result in a promotion. It can also be extremely subtle; in which your boss insinuates you can gain promotion in exchange for sexual favors. Though less common, quid pro quo can also occur between co-workers.
A hostile work environment generally refers to a type of harassment that occurs in the form of inappropriate comments, jokes, physical touches, insults, name-calling, or even offensive pictures. Any of these things can contribute to a hostile work environment.
To meet the definition of sexual harassment these acts and instances have to be more than what a similarly situated reasonable employee would have found only to be “petty, slight, and trivial.” Under federal standards, the discriminatory conduct must rise to the level of “severe or pervasive”.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment, chances are you know you are being harassed, especially if you are experiencing a hostile work environment. However, if it is more subtle, you may be unsure if you have a case. If you’re unsure, it’s advisable to contact an employment attorney who can help you identify whether or not you have a claim.
Here are some examples of sexual harassment:
It’s common for sexual harassment cases to boil down to a he-said-she-said scenario which is why having documentation for these types of cases is absolutely vital. The moment you begin to suspect harassment you should begin collecting evidence in the event you need to make a claim.
Keep detailed records that include the dates, times, and descriptions of any harassment incidents. If possible, keep an electronic record because if needed the dates of these exchanges can be verified. It’s also important to keep a record of any individuals who have witnessed the harassment and can help verify your claims. It’s important that you save copies of all text messages and emails. Finally, you should document any adverse actions the person or people harassing you took against you.
If you reported the claim to your human resources department or supervisor, you should keep records of any reports you made and what actions were taken in response. Any reports you make should be made in writing. Reporting sexual harassment can extremely important, especially if after rejecting unwanted advances or notifying the employer, you end up getting fired.
If the sexual harassment you have suffered has caused any physical or emotional injuries it is important you receive medical attention and have those injuries documented.
Finally, you should speak with an experienced sexual harassment attorney who can guide you through the process of making a claim and discuss your legal options with you.
Anyone who feels they have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace by a supervisor or coworker should seek immediate legal assistance. Our team of top-rated New York sexual harassment lawyers is dedicated to helping and representing employees suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you are suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace or from a hostile work environment. Contact us today at 516-741-0300 and learn how we can help.