You may find a shocking to learn that nearly 40% of all women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Nearly 15% of all men find themselves in the same situations.
Eliminating this occurrence is essential to maintain a safe work environment. We put together a brief guide with key information you need to know about hostile environment sexual harassment. Let’s take a closer look.
Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment Defined
This type of harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile working environment. This can include jokes or comments about a person’s body shape or size, questions regarding their private life, obscene gestures, unwanted touching, etc.
It’s important to note hostile environment sexual harassment can occur without any physical contact.
This type also applies when an employer or co-worker retaliates against someone for refusing a request of a sexual nature. It can also include an offense committed by a supervisor against a subordinate.
Types of Harassment
The primary types of hostile environment sexual harassment include quid pro quo and non-quid pro-quo.
Quid pro quo involves an individual in a position of power, such as a supervisor, who makes promises or threats related to someone’s job security, pay, or other compensation if they comply with their demands. It can be verbal or non-verbal and can include implied threats.
Non-quid pro quo harassment is more subtle. It involves unwelcome sexual advances and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
This type of harassment can involve any person in the workplace, regardless of their seniority. A common example is a co-worker making inappropriate jokes or lewd comments.
Many people who experience sexual harassment find it difficult to identify the behaviors, especially if they are subtle.
If you’re ever unsure, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel uncomfortable around this person?
- Does this person’s behavior make me feel threatened or intimidated?
- Are their comments or actions of a personal or sexual nature?
If you answer yes to any of the questions, it’s likely you’re experiencing sexual harassment in some form. Be honest with yourself about the situation you are in.
From here, you can take the appropriate steps.
Those who experience sexual harassment should seek support from a trusted source. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to contact your employer’s human resources department.
For instance, if you have experienced something like unwanted touching or groping, you should report it immediately in writing, and consult with an employment lawyer.
It’s essential to take action to stop the harassment if you find yourself in this situation. You can start by confronting the person directly and stating that their behavior is unwelcome and unacceptable.
You should also document incidents with dates, times, and descriptions as evidence. The more information you have, the better. This includes writing down any conversations or messages you receive from the harasser.
You then should speak to a trusted supervisor or your HR department to address the issue. Common ways to document your case’s evidence include:
- Text messages
- Notes from meetings
- Personal accounts of incidents
- Recorded conversations
- Social media posts or comments
By taking action, you can help create a safe and inclusive work environment for everyone.
Pursuing Legal Options
In some cases, it may be necessary to pursue legal action if the harassment persists. This is especially true when employers fail to take action or if the offense was committed by a co-worker who cannot be identified.
If you decide to pursue legal action, you must contact an attorney with experience in addressing hostile environment sexual harassment cases. They can help you understand your rights and options.
They will also represent you in court if necessary. Keep this in mind, as the legal system is difficult to navigate.
Finding an Attorney
When searching for an attorney, be sure to find someone who specializes in sexual harassment cases.
Key attributes to consider include their level of experience, expertise, and success rate.
To clarify, it’s important to ask for references, review previous court cases, and talk to others who have used their services. You should also check their past reviews. Reading what other clients have had to say about working with them can help you decide if they are the right attorney for your case.
Making a Claim
When making a claim, it’s important to provide as much information and evidence as possible. This includes any emails, texts, photos, or videos that may support your allegations of harassment. You should be prepared to answer questions about the incident, such as date and time, witnesses, and how the harassment impacted your work performance.
Many people find it difficult to talk about their experiences, but it’s essential that you are honest to make a successful claim. This is the only way to ensure that you achieve justice.
Get Started Today
If you find yourself dealing with hostile environment sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s essential to take action as soon as possible.
Be sure to consider the above information so you can make the decision that is best for you. Looking to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to contact us today to see what we can do.