I Was Sexually Harassed at Work, Can I Sue?
It would be nice if we could simply prevent others from saying things to us that we don’t like. Fortunately, while a lot of disturbing things that others say to us in public is protected by freedom of speech, there are circumstances when certain things they say to us at work are violations of our human rights and may entitle us to sue.
For example, unwanted gender-based comments that are made in the workplace may be considered verbal sexual harassment if they affect your job performance or cause you substantial distress.
What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
As it relates to incidents that occur in the workplace, the law defines sexual harassment as:
- Unwanted sexual advances;
- Request for sexual favors; or
- Any other conduct of a sexual nature that is disturbing, offensive, or interferes with your ability to do your job.
Examples of verbal sexual harassment include:
- Gender-based slurs
- Sexist jokes
- Commenting on a person’s figure or body
- Calling you demeaning names like honey, hottie, sweetie, babe, or hunk
Nonverbal sexual harassment can include:
- Whistling and other sexually suggestive noises
- Lewd gestures
- Leering or long sexually suggestive stares
- Displaying sexually suggestive photographs, posters, and calendars in the workplace
Sexual harassment can even go to a physical level as well and include unwanted touching, stroking, hugging, pinching, or actions that are otherwise undesirable and offensive.
Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
If you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, don’t ignore it. Report to your supervisor.
The law requires your boss to take immediate action to correct any harassing behavior that you report and to restore to you any benefits or employment opportunities you have lost as a result of that harassment.
If after you have reported the harassment to your boss, the harassment continues, or if the harasser is your boss, you may be eligible to sue your employer for compensatory and punitive damages.
This lawsuit will be based on the fact that your employer allowed a hostile work environment to exist in which you were sexually harassed, or that your employer knew or should have known that you were being sexually harassed and did not take appropriate action to stop it, or both.
Contact an Experienced Employment Law Attorney
All circumstances must be taken into consideration when deciding if you have been sexually harassed and if you are entitled to sue. Only an experienced employment law attorney can confirm that what you believe is sexual harassment is indeed sexual harassment under federal and state law.
If you feel that you have been sexually harassed at work, you don’t have to put up with it. Contact an experienced employment law attorney in your area for more information about how to protect your rights.