Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment and sexual assault has been in the news lately and even trending on social media. The point behind the message is that too many women stay silent after being victimized. After Roger Ailes was ousted from Fox following sexual harassment allegations and other allegations that are cropping up in the news, it’s important to note that sexual harassment is not something women—or men—have to put up with in the workplace.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
One way that victims of sexual harassment are brushed off is by excusing sexual harassment as just light-hearted banter or a compliment. Unfortunately, this shows that not enough people understand what sexual harassment is. Having a clearer view of what sexual harassment entails may help more individuals understand why certain types of jokes or touching are not appropriate in the workplace.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as:
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”
Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by women or men and can victimize people of the same or the opposite sex. In fact, not only can a victim be the person to whom the comments and advances are directed, a victim can be anyone who witnesses said comments or advances and is affected by the behavior. Essentially, these types of comments create a hostile work environment for victims and make it difficult to work.
In addition, sexual harassment isn’t just between a superior and their employee. It can happen across any level and can even include vendors and non-employees.
Reporting Sexual Harassment
Most workplaces have a set system in place for reporting issues such as sexual harassment and other discriminatory practices. You can check with an HR representative or in an employee handbook for the set procedure in your company.
If you file a report, however, and feel that it is not investigated and the behaviors reported continue, you may have a legal claim. If you feel that you are being retaliated against because of your claim or have been unfairly terminated for speaking out, consulting with a Tampa employment dispute attorney can help you move forward.
Consulting With a Tampa Employment Dispute Attorney
If you’ve been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, you have rights. Your place of work should be a safe environment that allows you to be productive and useful. Employers who allow sexual harassment to continue or who perpetrate sexual harassment should be held responsible. Likewise, those who ignore claims or retaliate against employees making claims should be held responsible for practices.
Sexual harassment doesn’t just make a workplace hostile, it can lead to pain and suffering as well. Employers have a responsibility to create a safe working environment for all employees. When they break that contract and fail to rectify a problem, they should be held responsible. If they illegally act out against an accuser, they should be held responsible.
Consulting with a Tampa employment dispute attorney can help you determine what your legal options are. Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to compensation or to reinstatement at your job. It is important, however, that sexual harassment is reported through the appropriate channels in a timely fashion and that legal advice is sought quickly thereafter. Don’t delay, if you’ve been harassed or discriminated against in the workplace, reach out to a Tampa employment dispute attorney today.