Stand Up To Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
The workplace should be a level playing field for all employees, no matter their gender, race, religion or disability status. State and federal law reinforce this sentiment. Unfortunately, not all employers abide by the law and workplace sexual harassment still occurs all too often. If you have been sexually harassed at work, an experienced employment law attorney can help you pursue the damages you deserve and protect you from further action.
At Holman Kent LLC, attorney Elissa Holman has the knowledge and skills to fight for your legal rights. Her background includes working in the corporate world and extensive experience in human resources. She has unique insight into how companies handle sexual harassment complaints. She will take the time to listen to your concerns and help you develop the best approach for handling your employment law case to reach your legal goals.
Defining Sexual Harassment
Any harassment based on a person’s sex constitutes sexual harassment. The harasser can be of any gender, as can the victim. Sexual harassment may include physical advances or verbal harassment of a sexual nature but may also include offensive comments about a person’s sex. The harasser could be anyone the victim works with, including a supervisor, a co-worker, or even a client or customer.
Legal action usually requires more than a single, isolated incident that is not serious in nature. The action must be either frequent or severe enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment or affect the victim’s employment status. When this happens, you should tell the harasser to stop, document the incident and report it to your supervisor. As soon as you report an incident, your employer should act to investigate and/or put a stop to the behavior. Failure to do so opens the door to legal action from you.
Quid Pro Quo
The term “quid pro quo” is Latin for “this for that.” In terms of sexual harassment, it means to offer someone an employment benefit in exchange for sexual favors. For example, a floor manager offers to promote an employee if she has sex with him. The offer may also be in the form of a threat. For example, a supervisor may threaten to fire an employee if he does not go on a date with her. The key to this type of action is that the harasser is in a position of power over the victim.
What If Your Employer Retaliates?
If you file a complaint of sexual harassment, your employer may not retaliate in any way under the law. Examples of retaliation include:
- Termination or demotion
- Giving fewer hours or an undesirable shift
- Bullying or harassment by supervisors or co-workers
- Denial of a raise or promotion
- Exclusion from meetings or employee activities
Regardless of the status of the original sexual harassment complaint, retaliation for filing a good faith complaint is illegal. You have access to legal protections when you exercise your civil rights in the workplace. If you suffered any type of retaliation after filing a harassment complaint, discuss the matter with us. We will examine every aspect of your case to give you solid legal advice regarding your next steps.
Stop The Harassment
You don’t have to put up with sexual harassment. Talk to the attorneys at Holman Kent LLC in a free initial consultation. We help clients throughout Iowa and Missouri from our Des Moines office. To schedule an appointment, call 515-302-6764 or send an email.