Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious offense that can happen to women or men working at any type of place of employment. Acts of sexual harassment in the workplace can include:
- Repeated leering or staring in a sexual manner
- E-mailing sexually explicit images
- Making sexually explicit jokes or comments about a co-worker
- Intentional touching or brushing against a co-worker
While these are just some of the more common actions found in workplaces around the country that can be considered sexual harassment, the list is not all inclusive. Any explicit or repeated inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature done to an employee can be considered sexual harassment in the workplace, and these situations are some of the most uncomfortable for the victim or victims in terms of creating a hostile work environment.
Who Commits Acts of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Acts of sexual harassment in the workplace can be committed by those of the opposite gender, those of the same gender, and those of all positions within a company. Both men and women can find themselves victims of sexual harassment at their place of employment, and these incidents can create an environment for the employee in which they feel too uncomfortable to perform their daily professional tasks.
How to Stop Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
When a person experiences sexual harassment in the workplace, there are several steps that should be taken in order to ensure the behavior will cease. The following steps a person should take are:
- Ask the person to stop – When experiencing sexual harassment at work, the first thing a person should do is ask the offending party to stop the behavior that is making them uncomfortable. In some instances, people may not realize that what they are doing is making their co-worker or employee uncomfortable, and simply asking them to stop can make them aware that their behavior is inappropriate and should be ceased.
- Speak to a manager or supervisor – If a co-worker, vendor, client, customer, or other entity is asked to stop their behavior, and the problem is not remedied, the next step to take is to speak to a supervisor or manager and bring the incidents to their attention. Managers will usually go to great lengths to stop any sexual harassment behaviors that offend their employees, as neglecting to do so could result in a lawsuit.
- File a complaint with the human resources department – If a manager or supervisor fails to stop the problem, or the harassment is being carried out by a manager or supervisor, a person should then consult the human resources department of their company. The human resources department has the job of making sure employees are given a safe and comfortable workplace that allows them to perform at the best of their ability.
- File a lawsuit – If all other resources have been tried, and the behavior still fails to cease, a person can then file a lawsuit against their company for allowing the sexual harassment to continue. Employees are protected from sexual harassment by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the Equal Opportunity Employment Act from hostile work environments, discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace, and they may be able to receive financial compensation for their mental anguish should the behaviors be allowed to continue.
Equal Employment Opportunity Laws
Equal employment opportunity laws were put into place as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at which time the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, was created. The EEOC is a federal agency tasked with making sure that equal employment opportunity laws are upheld, and that employers do not neglect their responsibility to provide a harassment and discrimination free workplace for their employees.
When an employer refuses to put a stop to discriminatory behaviors, such as sexual harassment, they are in violation of these laws and a situation arises that is grounds for a lawsuit. Ongoing cases of sexual harassment where an employee is forced to be exposed to these behaviors for a prolonged period of time can cause a person to be faced with excess amounts of unnecessary stress and psychological trauma, which is why these particular cases are not taken lightly. Typically, an offender that has repeat problems of sexual harassment complaints will be terminated; however, there are instances when the proper actions are not taken.
Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
If all measures are taken, and the sexual harassment is still being experienced, a person may then decide to file a lawsuit against their company to cover the psychological damages they have experienced due to the harassment they faced. Sexual harassment will not only cause a person to suffer psychological traumas, but it may cost them from flourishing in their professional position as well, as these hostile work environments can cause a person to feel they are unable to efficiently perform their job on a day to day basis.
When filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against a company or employer in the state of Maryland, the help of a skilled Maryland area attorney should always be sought. An attorney is a professional in law, and they will understand and be well versed in all of the equal employment opportunity laws of the state in order to best represent their client and ensure they get the proper compensation they deserve for their individual sexual harassment case. An attorney will also be able to help in all aspects and steps of the case in order to allow their client their best chance at a successful outcome.