Identifying Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
A person who has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace will know that the feeling can be extremely uncomfortable and can present a multitude of internal and external complications. Depression, feeling anxious to return to work, and humiliation are some of the repercussions of undergoing an event that involved sexual harassment in the workplace. However, there are strict laws that govern legal actions for sexual harassment in the workplace.
The term sexual harassment can be a very broad term. Identifying key elements of sexual harassment in the workplace can be beneficial when attempting to identify what laws can be used to litigate a sexual harassment claim and in defending against a sexual harassment claim. This article will highlight a few of the most common identifying factors of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Defining Sexual Harassment
As previously mentioned, the term sexual harassment is a very broad term, however, it may include the following conduct:
- Uninvited harassing comments
- Uninvited harassing advances, and/or
- Uninvited harassing conduct or behaviors
This conduct involves the gender, sex, or sexual orientation of the victim. The conduct is not absolute and can vary. The key term, however, is acknowledging that the conduct is uninvited and without consent. Generally, if the conduct has created a hostile work environment for the victim or has otherwise interrupted his or her productivity in the workplace, this is considered unlawful sexual harassment.
Every employee, under the State of California, is protected against workplace sexual harassment. This is without regard to the employee’s position, which can also include the company owner. The following is a short list of those who could be held accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace:
- Business owners
Every employee should also be made aware of what will qualify as workplace sexual harassment. Typically, this information is found in the employee handbook and/or the employee will be provided an informational session regarding the aspects and repercussions of sexual harassment in the workplace. This is the first step in protecting your business and the ability to continue operating it successfully. If employees have a clear identification of the terms, processes and protocol in place, potential claims are reduced. Further, when un-warranted claims do arise, you have a company standard of which to help defend yourself with.
Common Examples of Unlawful Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Unlawful sexual harassment practices in the workplace can take form in a multitude of scenarios. Some common examples may include, but are not limited to:
- The sharing of sexually explicit pictures or videos
- Sharing suggestive text messages or emails (This includes via social media)
- Displaying sexually explicit or suggestive images in the workplace
- Performing inappropriate gestures
- Making lewd jokes
- Making sexual statements in regard to a person’s clothing, body parts, and/or physical appearance
- Touching, rubbing, patting, or even intentionally brushing up against a person
- Asking inappropriate questions about a person’s sexual history and/or his or her sexual orientation
The Bottom Line
Unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace can take a multitude of forms. If you have an employee who has filed a claim you need to start your defense immediately. If you are an employee who believes you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, is it important to seek legal counsel to assure you file a timely claim. An attorney with the right experience will have knowledge about what current laws can protect you.
The attorneys at the Knez Law Firm have extensive experience in the field of unlawful harassment claims. They are dedicated to seeking the protection of victims who have experienced unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace and can help provide an available defense with regard to your claim.