No one should have their personal safety put at risk, or have to feel uncomfortable while they're working.
If you are dealing with a boss or coworker who refuses to end their harassment against you or others, then it’s important to talk to an employment lawyer for help.
What are the Different Types of Sexual Harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission separates sexual harassment into two categories labeled ‘hostile work environment’ and ‘quid pro quo.’
Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs in any workplace where unwarranted physical, verbal, or emotional conduct is unavoidable and inhibits workers from doing their job. Quid pro quo sexual harassment means this for that. A common example would be an employer offering their employee a raise or promotion as a reward for performing sexual favors.
More general examples include:
- Unwelcome visual, verbal, written, or physical sexual behavior
- Comments about clothing or a person’s body
- Sexual-based jokes
- Sexual intimidation
- Inappropriate touching, kissing, or hugging
- Direct requests for sexual favors
Sexual harassment is a term used to describe unwelcome sexual behavior and speech that makes an individual uncomfortable in a sexual sense, regardless of whether the behavior comes from a man or a woman. It includes a variety of behaviors that are sometimes encountered on the job that have been determined to be discriminatory, coercive and illegal. A number of specific actions fall under this category, and JacksonWhite’s sexual harassment lawyers in Mesa, Arizona can inform you of the specific steps you should take to file a lawsuit.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in Arizona?
Sexual harassment includes any request for sexual favors in exchange for consideration in hiring, promotion or wage increase. It also includes constant sexual comments, threats or unwanted touching that would constitute a hostile environment for the worker. A hostile environment would also include pornographic pictures, sexual jokes or lewd remarks. These actions are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is in effect for any company with 15 employees or more. You have 180 days from the harassment incident in which to file a compliant under Title VII. Harassment can be committed by supervisors, co-workers, company owners, clients or vendors. Usually, sexual harassment is thought of in regard to men’s treatment of women, but it can also involve women harassing men, men harassing men or women harassing women, in a sexual context. Arizona has its own laws regarding sexual harassment, but local laws may also apply and may include companies with fewer than 15 employees.
What Sexual Harassment Is Not
Training in sexual harassment law is not required of employers, but it is strongly recommended to avoid problems between employees and between supervisors and subordinates. Sexual harassment can be one single incident or a combination of incidents that occur over time and are of varying seriousness. For example, unwelcome touching would be a single act serious enough to constitute harassment. However, repeated, smaller offensive actions can also constitute sexual harassment actions serious enough to justify an official compliant. However, not every action of a sexual nature is considered harassment. Minor teasing or casual, one-time sexual references are not generally considered sexual harassment. An action must be seriously offensive, done on a repeating basis and must cause distress to the individual who is the target of the action.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
The essence of a sexual harassment event is that the action was “unwelcome.” Relationships frequently develop in employment situations, but these generally involve consensual behavior on the part of both people. Sexual harassment comes into play when a superior makes sex a requirement for getting the job, getting a good review or for being considered for a promotion. Evidence of this “quid pro quo,” which means “this for that,” or “something for something,” constitutes a strong basis for a sexual harassment case. Another example of sexual harassment would be hanging a pornographic poster in a work area. The constant visual display of images of a sexual nature would constitute a “hostile work environment,” which could cause constant discomfort to a worker that could impact their daily performance on the job.
Laws in Arizona Regarding Sexual Harassment
In the state of Arizona, both federal and state sexual harassment laws may apply. Title XII applies to companies over 15 employees, and the complaint is filed with the EEOC. If you work for a company that is smaller than 15 employees, state laws would still apply, and you would file a complaint with the Arizona Civil Rights Division. However, an attorney may advise you to file with either agency, depending on which statutes would best apply to your case. In Arizona, the sexual attention must be “unwanted,” which means that individuals must make it clear they do not want the attention. Both agencies have a 180-day statute of limitations on sexual harassment compliant cases.
Steps For Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint
To deal with sexual harassment in your employment situation, it is recommended that you first speak to the individual doing the behavior, informing them that it makes you feel uncomfortable and asking them to stop doing it. However, this action may be too threatening for the person, in which case, a supervisor may brought into the complaint. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an individual who files a sexual harassment complaint.
Several steps can be taken to report a complaint of sexual harassment:
- Go to your supervisor and report the behavior, informing him or her of the steps you have taken to stop it.
- Read your employee manual on what you should do in cases of sexual harassment, a subject that is often covered in human resource materials.
- Keep records of the incidences of harassment, when they occurred and what was said.
- If there are witnesses to the behavior, ask them to provide a signed statement.
- If the company is not willing or able to remedy the situation, file an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint, to help you to remedy the situation and come to a settlement.
- Filing an EEOC complaint is a legal requisite for a sexual harassment lawsuit in court.
An Employment Law Attorney Can Help Protect Your Rights
Although you are not required to hire legal counsel for your sexual harassment complaint case, an attorney can give you with important information on how sexual harassment cases proceed and what information you will need to provide to make your most effective case. Generally, sexual harassment lawyers are paid on a contingency basis, that is, they take a portion of the financial settlement you will receive if your case is successful. You should be aware that sexual harassment lawsuits can be difficult to prove and can extend for a long period of time. Not all lawyers are willing to take a sexual harassment lawsuit, but if you have good evidence and witnesses to the actions, it will be easier to prove your case.
Sexual harassment can cause extreme distress and can affect productivity on the job. If you are being harassed at work, talk to your human resources department about filing an official complaint to stop the behavior and allow you to continue being productive in your employment. Our employment lawyers in Mesa, Arizona are ready to help you prosecute your case.
Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.