It isn’t always easy to differentiate acceptable workplace behavior from sexual harassment. Sometimes sexual harassment can be more subtle.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that sexual harassment may include verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors, and unwelcome sexual advances. However, sexual harassment doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature. It could just involve offensive remarks about an individual’s gender.
For sexual harassment to be considered illegal, it must be so severe or frequent that it causes a work environment that is offensive. While these details can be helpful in determining whether you suffered from sexual harassment, and often, courts determine sexual harassment is what a “reasonable person” would consider sexual and unwelcome.
One of the more obvious signs of sexual harassment is when one of your supervisors or managers requests you preform sexual favors in return for a promotion, or for a pay raise. This is known as Quid Pro Quo harassment. As an example, if your manager says that if you are willing to provide sexual favors for him after work, you are a shoe in for that promotion. Or if a manager says that if you take care of him he will take care of you and then he comments sexual favors that he wants in return.
Offensive Images or Offensive Comments
If your supervisor sends you offensive images or comments, then it could be a less obvious form of sexual harassment. Your manager may email you photos of scantily clothed or nude people or may make comments comparing you to the people in the photographs.
These are situations which could convey objectification. Another example would be if the manager sent you a photo of a nude woman and commented that if you would pose like that you could count on a good evaluation and a pay raise.
If You Think You Are Being Sexually Harassed
If you think that you are being sexually harassed while at work, you should file a formal complaint with your company’s human resources department. You will need to document everything and provide specific details to support your claim. Be sure to include dates and times, detail what exactly happened, provide copies of documentation, and, also indicate if there are any witnesses.
When you send your email or letter, be sure to put the cause for the email in the memo line or in the heading. You should specify that it is an official complaint of sexual harassment. By doing this, they have no excuses for overlooking the notification, and they must offer you a response.
Any time that you believe you have experienced sexual harassment you should be sure to write down the specific details about the incident while it is still fresh in your memory. You need supporting documentation in order to have a successful case against your employer and to prove that you indeed suffer from sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Consult With A Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you have suffered from sexual harassment in the workplace, you will need to follow proper protocol to pursue a claim against your employer. The first step is to file a formal complaint with your company’s human resources department then the EEOC.
You should also enlist the help of a sexual harassment attorney who handles employment law cases in your state. An attorney can help you gather the supporting evidence and documentation that you need to prove you suffered sexual harassment in the workplace.
There is a time limit for pursuing a claim, so you should get your sexual harassment claim filed and underway before the statute of limitations runs out. If you wait too long, you cannot file your claim. Some sexual harassment attorneys work on a contingency basis, while others do charge an hourly rate.
When you hire a lawyer, you should discuss the payment schedule and understand how the process works. You will want to discuss the situation with an attorney and determine the best way to proceed. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page so you can get your sexual harassment claim on the right track.