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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment: Can I Sue My Employer?

Whether you are a man or a woman, you deserve to be protected in the workplace, and free from sexual harassment. There are a number of situations that may constitute sexual harassment, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, making offensive comments of a sexual nature, other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or even being a witness to any of these actions being committed against a co-worker. Such behavior becomes increasingly frowned upon when it is so frequent and severe that it creates a hostile work environment or when it results in termination or demotion.

Types of Inappropriate Conduct

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Specific actions that will constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome touching
  • Pervasive displays of material with sexual content
  • Playing of audio or music with sexually explicit dialogue or lyrics
  • Actual sexual assault
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sexually suggestive jokes or commentary
  • Bribes for sexual favors
  • Blackmail for sexual gifts or support
  • Attempting to engage in conversations of a sexual nature

Men and women alike can be victims of sexual harassment, and the harasser need not be from the opposite sex. If you have been subject to any of the above mentioned conduct, you have a right to sue your employer. Unless it is severe, a single incident may not constitute sexual harassment, as usually the victim needs to show evidence of a pattern of offensive conduct.

Filing a Claim

You can sue your employer for sexual harassment if you were discriminated against in the workplace on the basis of sex, and the claim will be based on 1 of 2 theories:

Quid Pro Quo: when an employment decision, such as an advancement, raise, promotion, or continued employment, is based on submission to sexual favors.  This submission to the unwelcome advances can be an explicit or implied condition of employment or employment benefit and the rejection of the unwelcome advances is used as a basis for employment decisions.

Hostile Work Environment: when sexual harassment creates a workplace environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

The courts will consider several factors: 1) whether the offensive conduct was verbal, physical, or both; 2) how frequently the alleged offender(s) engaged in such conduct; 3) whether the conduct was hostile or inherently offensive; 4) whether the alleged harasser was a co-worker, supervisor, customer, or vendor; 5) whether others joined in perpetrating the harassment; and 6) whether there were multiple victims of the alleged harassment.
Prosecuting a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace will be time consuming, involve complex litigation, and take an emotional toll on a distraught employee. It takes an experienced legal team to stand up against a powerful employer, whether they be a government agency, a company or corporation, or a private civilian. Robert Liskey and his legal team will provide aggressive representation if you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Liskey firm is highly experienced and qualified in challenging an employer and protecting your rights in the workplace. If you believe you have a valid sexual harassment claim against your employer, contact the Liskey firm today for a consultation.

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