What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

When our alarms go off every day, many wake with a positive feeling about heading into work. They take pride in fulfilling their passion and enjoy their career. But for some, the thought of going into work causes anguish and emotional trauma because they don’t feel safe in their work environment. Perhaps they don’t always know how to identify sexual harassment, or they are afraid to speak up. Every American has the right to work, without facing aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Carter Law Firm, in Orange County, wants to help you identify sexual harassment and explain your options if you feel that you’re a victim.

What is Sexual Harassment?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has clear definitions of sexual harassment:

It is unlawful to harass a person (applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

Identifying Potential Harassers

While many associate a workplace harassment claim as an employee against a boss, the laws are far more expansive. The harasser can be any supervisor in the company or a co-worker that is of an equal or lesser position than yours.

Another common misconception is that sexual harassment is primarily man on woman. The law applies to all situations including women against men, men against men, and women against women.

What to Do if You Feel Harassed

If you believe that you are the victim of sexual harassment or discrimination you should report it. Some corporations mandate that alleged victims report their case to their supervisor. If the supervisor is the one responsible for the inappropriate behavior, discuss it with another supervisor or the human resources department.

You have a right to report your experience without fear of retaliation or discrimination. It is unlawful to retaliate against a person for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or related litigation.

If you feel that your company is ignoring your claims, or that you feel you’ve been dismissed because of your allegations, you have help. Carter Law Firm is made up of experienced and knowledgeable Orange County Lawyers specializing in sexual harassment claims.

Sexual harassment is only one form of discrimination protected by law.  For information on other protected areas, see our page on discrimination/wrongful discharge.  If you believe you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination, contact the Carter Law Firm.