Does your boss talk about his sex life in front of you, or does he call you “babe” or “honey” or make other suggestive comments about your body? Does he make inappropriate comments about wanting to have sex with you? Are there sexually explicit pictures or images in the workplace? Is there physical contact that is sexually motivated? Any of this conduct could be considered sexual harassment.
If you think you’re being sexually harassed, the first thing you need to do is read your company’s policy on reporting harassment. Typically a victim of harassment is required to notify the supervisor that the conduct at issue is unwelcome and must stop. This will prevent any misunderstandings and prevent management from later claiming that the harasser didn’t know that you found his conduct to be offensive. If the conduct persists or you are thereafter retaliated against, you should contact Denver employment lawyer Gregory A. Hall.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides remedies for sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or discrimination. If you decide to pursue your rights through litigation, you will need to timely file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.
What Is A Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment results when your supervisor, co-worker, customer, vendor, or anyone with whom you come in contact with on the job engages in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual or gender based behavior making the workplace intimidating, hostile or offensive. Courts look at the some of the following factors in determining a workplace is hostile:
•Verbal or physical conduct;
•Frequency of the unwelcome discriminatory conduct;
•Discussions concerning a sexual nature;
•Comments about your physical attributes;
•Use of demeaning or inappropriate terms; and
•Use of profane and offensive language.
Additionally, the hostile work environment must be severe or pervasive enough to “alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment.” In order to determine whether the abuse is severe or pervasive, Courts have looked at the following:
•The severity of the conduct;
•Was the conduct physically threatening or just an offensive utterance;
•Did the conduct unreasonably interfere with work performance;
•The effect on the employee’s emotional well-being; and
•Was the harasser a co-worker or someone in a higher position.
Proving A Claim of Sexual Harassment
Proving sexual harassment can be a daunting undertaking. For example, when thinking about filing a lawsuit, you need to be concerned that what might be an abusive working environment to you may not be considered abusive to someone else. There can be a fine line between sexual harassment and what might be just flirtatious behavior or teasing. Thus, not only must the unwelcome conduct be subjectively abusive to you, but a reasonable person must also find it objectively severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile environment.
Quit Pro Quo Harassment
“Quid pro quo” sexual harassment occurs where a person in a supervisory position engages in sexual harassment which results in a tangible employment action. For example, your boss or supervisor, might fire, demote, or deny you a raise or promotion because you don’t go on date or engage in a sexual relationship with him or her.
Potential Remedies Under Title VII
The victims of sexual harassment often suffer from a hostile workplace environment and end up choosing to leave their jobs. In 1991, Congress amended the Civil Rights Act to so that sexual harassment victims can now recover compensatory damages in addition to back pay, including future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-monetary losses. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, you may be able to collect punitive damages if you can show that your employer acted with malice or with reckless or callous indifference. In addition, before you resign your position, you should consult with a qualified employment lawyer, since if you voluntarily leave your position as the result of the harassment, you will then have to prove that your resignation was a constructive discharge.
If you are being harassed, Denver Sexual Harassment Lawyer Gregory A. Hall may be able to help you secure relief. Call to set up a consultation during which Mr. Hall will assess the strength of your claim and help provide guidance on how to negotiate the legal landscape of pursuing a claim.
Thank you for visiting the Blog of Denver Employment Lawyer Gregory A. Hall. This website does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek the advice of a qualified employment attorney if you need help with a sexual harassment case.