The “he said-she said” nature of sexual harassment claims reared its ugly head once again in the sphere of presidential politics in the fall of 2011. One candidate made headlines for allegedly harassing women in a workplace context, charges that dance between criminality and workplace hostility.
While workplace sexual impropriety is not usually a matter of criminal law, it can affect careers and is subject to civil litigation brought by personal injury attorneys who specialize in sex harassment cases. Any employee who is made to endure a hostile situation due to sex abuse of any kind is advised to contact a sexual harassment attorney, another name for lawyers who handle sex harassment cases. With experienced legal counsel, an employee can identify how to stop situations of abuse and achieve appropriate compensation for its effect on his or her career.
Sexual abuse sometimes occurs between persons of the same gender, with several cases establishing the validity of that claim. Note that sexual abuse can be committed or received by persons of either gender, toward a supervisor, laterally at a peer, as well as along the traditional top-down, quid pro quo (“this for that”) path.
Here are the frequently asked questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace:
Q: A co-worker flirts with and even touches me, but I am not interested in him. I’ve told my supervisor it makes me uncomfortable, but thus far no action has been taken. At what point do I contact a sexual harassment attorney?
A: The key point is your supervisor has taken no action and the unwanted behavior persists. Your company is failing to correct a hostile situation, something prohibited by the law. Call a personal injury attorney who has expertise in this area.
Q: A co-worker and I have been quietly dating outside the office for a few months. There is a company policy that discourages it, but we felt if we kept it a secret there would be no problem. What do we risk in this situation?
A: Your primary risk is defying company rules. In most cases, companies’ concerns over inter-company romance focuses on supervisor-subordinate relationships. If one of you becomes a supervisor to the other, other employees might have a case focused on the unfair advantages that could result.
Q: What does California employment law say about employees who use sexual favors to get promotions? We have such a person in our office and it feels very unfair to the rest of us.
A: California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) states that an employer who allows those advantages to persist is in violation of the law. You and your fellow employees should first speak with your human resources department to address specific incidents where the individual in question committed such an act. If your employer fails to take any action, you might have cause to contact a lawyer with experience in workplace sexual discrimination.
Q: I am one of the few female employees in a company comprised mostly of men. There are occasions where offensive, sexual jokes are told that I find objectionable. Do I have to sit silently and just put up with it?
A: California law forbids sexually suggestive humor in the workplace because it creates hostile working conditions. Speak with your supervisor. If he (or she?) fails to end those types of offensive jokes, you have a right to sue your employer.
Contact a sexual harassment attorney with more questions
No employee should be subject to hostile working conditions. Lawyers who work in personal injury law generally will meet for no fee to discuss a situation and whether it qualifies for litigation.
Important Advisory: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you or anyone else should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.