Unfortunately, sexual harassment is still a major problem in the workplace. We have successfully represented clients who have had to endure sexual harassment at the workplace by either a co-worker or management. There are generally two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment is the most commonly recognized form of sexual harassment. It occurs in when one or both of the following things occur:
- when job benefits, including employment, promotion, salary increases, shift or work assignments, performance expectations and other conditions of employment, are made contingent on the provision of sexual favors, usually to an employer, supervisor or agent of the employer who has the authority to make decisions about employment actions, or
- when the rejection of a sexual advance or request for sexual favors results in a tangible employment detriment, a loss of a job benefit of the kind described above.
The fact that an employee may have given in to those demands does not mean there is not a case. The key is that the sexual advances are unwanted.
Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when the working environment is made hostile because of its sexual nature. An employee may have a claim for hostile environment sexual harassment if the employee is subject to a pattern of exposure to unwanted sexual behavior from the employee’s supervisor or persons other than an employee's direct supervisor where supervisors or managers take no steps to discourage or discontinue such behavior. Such unwanted sexual behavior can include making the working environment is made intolerable by photographs, comments, jokes, or other acts of an offensive sexual nature, including physical touching.
Employees often fear that employers will retaliate against them for complaints of sexual harassment. Both Federal laws and state laws in Kentucky and Indiana protect employees from retaliation with adverse employment action after complaining of sexual harassment. This does not mean that retaliation does not still occur. Any retaliation by your supervisor should also be immediately reported to another member of management.
Sexual harassment and retaliation are serious. No one should have to work in such an environment. If you are being subjected to sexual harassment you need to take the proper action. Contact an employment law attorney at Miller and Falkner to discuss your legal options and take steps to protect yourself from sexual harassment.
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