Sexual harassment in the workplace is not okay. It can create an intimidating and hostile work environment, making it difficult for victims or witnesses to feel comfortable coming to work or doing their jobs. Unfortunately, even though sexual harassment can have several adverse effects on employee productivity and performance as well as their physical and mental health, many workers do not speak up about it out of fear of retaliation.
Know that if you or any of your coworkers have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, reporting the incident should not result in adverse actions against you. Retaliation against any person who reports, testifies, or aids in a sexual harassment investigation is illegal.
We understand that coming forward about sexual harassment can be difficult. But the only way to stop injustices from occurring is to take action. Thus, we hope that this blog will give you the information, and therefore, the courage to take a stand against reprehensible and unlawful behavior. We discuss your rights and the steps you can take to seek remedy.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
The first step in stopping sexual harassment is understanding what it is. That way, if you notice such conduct occurring at your job, you are prepared to address it.
Generally, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination involving any conduct that is sexual in nature.
It can include:
- Uninvited comments,
- Requests for sexual favors,
- Unwelcome sexual advances, and
- Verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature.
The perpetrators of sexual harassment can be supervisors, coworkers, or vendors for the company. Additionally, offensive conduct can be committed by a man or a woman.
What Are Examples of Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is more than just teasing or comments made during isolated incidents. Although, such behavior can be a violation of your employer's policies.
Sexual harassment involves conduct that is so severe or pervasive it affects the victim or witnesses. More specifically, it creates an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive.
Usually, sexual harassment makes it difficult for those subject or witness to it to do their jobs. They might also see the behavior as a condition of their employment. In other words, not enduring it would result in an adverse employment decision, such as being fired or demoted.
A range of behaviors can be considered sexual harassment, including, but not limited to:
- Sending sexually explicit content (e.g., pictures, videos, letters, or emails)
- Making sexual hand gestures
- Having explicit posters or images in the office
- Telling jokes or stories involving sexual content
- Leering at coworkers
- Touching others inappropriately
- Making offensive comments about someone's appearance or sexual orientation
Any of the above or other sexually related conduct occurring in the workplace is unacceptable. Neither you nor your colleagues should have to endure it. Take action immediately to address it.
What Can I Do About Workplace Sexual Harassment?
If you notice unlawful behavior in the workplace, report it. Be prepared when you talk to your employer about sexual harassment. This means making notes of dates and times as well as the nature of the incident. It may also include saving a copy of the sexually explicit information shared with you (if any). This can be difficult, as being reminded of the harassment may be the last thing you want, but having evidence is vital for building your case.
After you have logged the information about the incident, it is time to make a report.
Below are the steps you can take to address the conduct:
- Complaint to your manager: If your manager is not involved in perpetrating the offense, you may talk with them about the situation and seek remedy. It is recommended to do it in writing via email and to retain copies of such communications.
- Complaint to HR: Even if you have complained to your manager, it is also a good idea to complain in writing via email about the situation with a human resources representative. Make sure to retain copies of the communications.
- Consult with a lawyer: If you have complained or you are finding it difficult to complain about your experience, it may be beneficial to speak with an employment attorney to discuss your legal options.
At Nisar Law Group, P.C., we provide legal representation to employees facing discrimination at work. We are prepared to help you seek justice and fight to stop instances of sexual harassment and prevent it from occurring in the future.
Schedule a consultation with a member of our New York team by calling us at (646) 760-6493 or contacting us online today.