Reporting a Case of Sexual Harassment
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Isolated incidents of teasing or offhand comments are generally not considered harassment. However, such behavior crosses a line when it becomes frequent or severe, serving to create a hostile work environment.Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
When you think of sexual harassment in the work place, most of the time you think of supervisors or coworkers. However, employers have an obligation to protect their employees from this type of harassment, even from vendors, contractors or clients.
One of our clients recently had to deal with such a situation. At her administrative position in the hospitality industry, she was repeatedly harassed by an independent contractor. She reported the harassment to her employer, but the situation was never addressed, so she filed a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.Retaliation
After filing her claim with the EEOC, things went from bad to worse. Eventually, her supervisor retaliated by assigning her a duty that was not only outside the scope of her job description, but also potentially dangerous. At this point, she decided to contact an attorney. Ultimately, she received a settlement from her company and has kept her position. As a result of the retaliatory actions, the company was also fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.Lessons Learned
Though your situation may be different, there are still some lessons here that may be applied to other cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Report everything. Hopefully, most companies will respond to serious situations of harassment better than this company did. Don’t be intimidated. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, even if it is not from an employee of your company, report it.
- Document everything. File written reports and make a copy for yourself. Our client smartly filled out an official incident report and asked her company to make her a copy. Save emails, memos, photographs – anything that will provide evidence for your case.
- Don’t quit. You may feel like your job isn’t worth it, that you can find another job easily. However, staying put gives you leverage and you’ll be more likely to get a settlement.
- Talk to an attorney right away. An experienced employment lawyer will help you determine if you have a claim, the value of that claim, and will serve as an advocate for your rights.
When it comes to employment law and cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto are serious lawyers, who know how to win. We’ll listen to your side of the story, answer any questions that you have, and advise you on your best course of action, all at no charge to you. Our contingency fee arrangement means that we don’t get paid unless you do. Our office is conveniently located with plenty of free parking. Give us a call at (865) 691-2777 or contact us through our website Brown & Roberto, PLLC to set up a free consultation.