How do I prove sexual harassment/hostile work environment?
Far too many employees experience unwanted and illegal sexual harassment at work. Various federal and state anti-discrimination laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. These laws include Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and many states and local municipalities have laws that make sexual harassment illegal as well. It is important to consult with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer to understand your legal options.
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors
- Offensive verbal comments of a sexual nature or about women in general
- Physical touching
While anti-discrimination statutes do not outlaw (non-sexual) teasing or isolated/minor incidents, an illegal hostile work environment occurs when the harassing conduct is severe or pervasive and/or if it results in an adverse employment action (for example, being suspended, fired, or loss of pay).
To determine whether harassment violates Title VII and related laws, courts look to the following factors:
- frequency of the conduct;
- its severity;
- whether it is physically threatening or humiliating; and
- whether it unreasonably interferes with the employee’s work
Does it matter who is sexually harassing me?
Yes, it is also significant whether the sexual harasser is the employee’s supervisor or, instead, a co-worker or subordinate. In certain cases, the sexual harasser may not even be an employee of the company but rather is a client or a customer.
What remedies are available for sexual harassment?
- Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
- Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
- Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
- Reasonable attorney’s fees
Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.
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