Experienced Legal Counsel
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act aims to protect workers from sexual harassment at work.
It prohibits unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that turns the workplace into a hostile or offensive environment—whether that conduct comes from a supervisor, a co–worker, or even non–employees.
The conduct does not have to be physical, and does not have to be direct (such as a boss pinching an employee or threatening to fire her if she refuses to go out with him).
While a single offensive joke would not constitute sexual harassment, a pattern of severe and pervasive conduct of a sexual nature that intimidates or offends a worker or interferes with that person’s work performance would qualify. To determine whether certain actions create a hostile or abusive environment, the courts consider whether those actions would offend or intimidate a reasonable person—not a particular individual’s unique sensibilities. Drawing the boundaries of sexual harassment can sometimes be difficult.
However, if your co–workers are making sexual comments about you, if you have been retaliated against for refusing sexual advances at work, if other employees are sending offensive emails or posting explicit pictures so that you are forced to see them, or if similar circumstances make you feel uncomfortable or unable to do your work, you should certainly discuss your situation with an employment discrimination attorney.
Talking to an experienced attorney can help you determine whether you should move forward with a sexual harassment complaint. An experienced attorney can also ensure that you follow the proper procedures; for example, before filing a lawsuit related to sexual harassment, you must first file a complaint with the local office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will conduct an initial investigation. If the EEOC issues a “right to sue” letter in response, there will be deadlines that you must meet afterward, or risk losing your opportunity to make your case in court. Don’t delay; act to protect your rights.