It’s not always so easy to make a determination on whether or not sexual harassment has occurred in the workplace. If you’re not sure if your situation qualifies as sexual harassment or if you have a strong enough case to file a claim in the Milwaukee area, the experienced attorney’s at McDonald & Kloth, LLC can help.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
State and federal law make it unlawful to harass an employee (or applicant for employment) based upon his/her sex. Harassment of an employee includes:
- Unwelcome sexual advances, comments, or innuendos
- Requests for sexual favors
- Other conduct of sexual nature
Furthermore, this also includes harassment aimed specifically at the person’s gender where one employee chooses to treat another employee poorly simply because of that person’s gender.
Sexual Harassment Can Happen to Anyone
Harassment may occur to both men and women, and the harasser may be of the opposite or same sex as the person being harassed. The harasser may not even be an employee of the employer, such as a consultant, client, customer, or independent contractor.
Types of Sexual Harassment
Quid Pro Quo: A supervisor or other person in authority commands an employee to tolerate sexual harassment as a condition to receive or maintain employment. While a single instance of harassment is sufficient for a quid pro quo claim, a pattern of harassment can lead to a hostile work environment.
Hostile Work Environment: This creates grounds for legal action when the harassment has become so severe or pervasive as to create a hostile work environment or result in an adverse employment action (i.e. an action affecting the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment).
How Should an Employer & Employee Handle Sexual Harassment?
For employers, it is imperative that when a sexual harassment complaint is received, a prompt and comprehensive investigation is conducted and remedial action is taken. Engaging in these steps will ensure that employees are protected from unwarranted sexual advances. Importantly, providing a work environment free of sexual harassment will reduce liability exposure.
For employees, experiencing sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience, especially if the harasser is a supervisor. Most employers have a complaint reporting system in place to protect employees against sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Therefore, it is imperative that you place your employer on notice by following the proper complaint procedures. Employment laws protect employees that bring a good faith complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination from retaliation.
What You Can Do & How We Can Help
Reporting sexual harassment to your employer is an important first step. You can then use your company’s complaint process, file a charge with a state or federal agency, and/or go to court. Furthermore, it’s important to consult an employment & labor lawyer to discuss your choices.
McDonald & Kloth, LLC has successfully represented both employers and employees in sexual harassment claims. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or have received a complaint of sexual harassment, contact us immediately. We can help you understand the strength of your case as well as your choices moving forward.