Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

The onset of the #metoo movement has exposed the level of frequency and gravity that sexual harassment in the workplace can reach. Andrew Shubin Law has an established practice representing victims of discrimination in the workplace. Our practitioners are prepared to represent victims effectively and aggressively. There are no prerequisites as to the size of employers we fight. Our principal goal is to defend and represent victims as they seek recovery from this traumatic experience.

The attorneys working at Shubin Law are well versed in the law protecting victims of harassment in the workplace. Call us for a free and confidential consultation at (814) 826-3586.

Why Is Harassment in the Workplace Actionable?

Every employee should be free from harassment. Employers have a duty to educate and proactively create means for safe reporting and risk assessment. Safe reporting means that the employee will not be reprimanded or suffer negative repercussions for complaining about sexual harassment themselves or someone they know. A lot of times reports are not presented because the person with the information worries about getting sued for defamation and other forms of liability. However, reporters are shielded from liability as long as the report is honest and fact-based.

Risk assessment essentially means that the employer will hire someone to look at the location and work environment in order to determine if there are circumstances where sexual harassment can occur. If your employer simply doesn’t perform any inspections or reviews, then he may be liable, especially if there is common knowledge amongst employees that someone is sexually harassed.

If you or someone you know is harassed at work, attorney Andrew Shubin can help. If this employer is aware of the sexual harassment but pretends nothing is happening, you should contact a lawyer. If you have been too afraid to notify your supervisor, you don’t have to be afraid to seek justice. Attorney Andrew Shubin has experience in this area and knows well that victims of sexual harassment in the workplace find themselves between a rock and a hard place, often too afraid to speak up.

How is Sexual Harassment Defined?

Sexual harassment has been defined broadly. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment. Also, unwanted sexual conduct can come in many forms of discriminatory intimidation, including ridicule and insult.

Ridicule and insult can be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.”

National Sexual Harassment Laws

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination pursuant to Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex or national origin in employment practices. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations. “Victim” is defined as anyone who is affected by the offensive conduct. The law protects victims against harassment caused by a man or a woman. The victim doesn’t have to be of the opposite sex. The law also protects victims against the harasser who can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, or a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

Can I Sue for Emotional Pain Suffered from Sexual Harassment?

Title VII extends to sexual discrimination in the workplace since the ruling of Meritor Sav. Bank v. Vinson where the Supreme Court specified that harassment has to cause a “tangible psychological injury” in order for an employee to have a viable claim against the employer. This injury doesn’t have to be physical only; It can also be emotional.

Attorneys can establish that the pain suffered is an injury that could have been prevented by the employer in multiple ways. If you’re currently experiencing pain and other emotional and physical symptoms that you can associate with the harassment, you should seek help from a professional and also keep a diary or notes of how you’re affected.

What an Employer Should Do to Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment

Prevention is considered the best tool to eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace. There are state and federal laws and regulations that encourage employers to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.

The law protects employers who promulgate policies to prevent sexual harassment. However, when an employer has rules in place but fails to enforce them, then they will be stripped of these protections. Courts will look at the facts surrounding the sexual harassment to determine if there were clear indications the employer should have known a hostile environment existed in the workplace.

Employers should have a sexual harassment policy that:

  • Provides a clear and succinct definition of sexual harassment.
  • Encourages individuals to report instances of threatened or actual violations of the policy.
  • Provides an explanation of the process of investigation initiated on basis of the report. It should be clear in that confidentiality or anonymity cannot be maintained.

Am I Required to Tell My Employer About a Sexual Harassment Incident?

It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

An investigation of the sexual harassment will include the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.

Retaliation Against Sexual Harassment at Work

Retaliation consists of spiteful or negative acts following a report of sexual harassment at work. Retaliation is a violation of Title VII. If you believe retaliation has occurred or has been threatened, you should report the retaliation. When there is a probationary period or warning following your report, then there is ground to suspect retaliation. Let us say you had never received a written warning before and all of a sudden, after the report is made, you begin to receive written statements on your performance, then it’s possible you’re being retaliated against.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorneys Offering Free Consultations

Andrew Shubin will help you seek recovery if you or a loved one was a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Call us today at (814) 826-3586 for a free consultation.