Workplaces present plenty of challenges to their employees, but those challenges should never include sexual harassment. Workplace sexual harassment is illegal, and employees who suffer the effects of this misconduct deserve to receive financial and other legal relief. If you have been the victim of harassment at work, speak to an experienced New Bedford sexual harassment attorney at MA Employment Lawyers. We are a knowledgeable legal team who fights aggressively for the rights of employees across Massachusetts.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Have you suffered mistreatment based on your sex or gender, but you are unsure whether it counts as sexual harassment? Under the law state and federal, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome, sex-based conduct, and it usually occurs as either hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment if it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s job performance by creating an intimidating or hostile atmosphere. Regardless of how your employer or harasser might justify or downplay their unlawful behavior, the list of what constitutes hostile work environment harassment is long.
Behavior that can make a workplace intimidating includes the following unwelcome, sex-based activities:
- Offensive joking,
- Touching without permission,
- Insulting others based on their sex or gender,
- Invading others’ personal space,
- Stereotyping individuals based on their gender or sex,
- Commenting on body parts or physical appearance,
- Using slurs,
- Repeatedly requesting romantic encounters,
- Displaying graphic images,
- Exposing intimate body parts,
- Taking pictures of others without permission,
- Having sexually explicit conversations, and
- Excluding others from work activities because of their sex or gender.
Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, hostile work environment harassment must be so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would call the victim’s workplace hostile. This typically means that a harassment victim must prove that there was a pattern of offensive conduct at work. However, a single extreme and offensive act can be enough to maintain a sexual harassment claim. The best way to gauge the validity of your claim is to consult with a New Bedford harassment lawyer from MA Employment Lawyers.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer requires its employee to endure unwelcome, sex-based conduct in order to receive work benefits or avoid punishment. A classic example of this is when a boss fires their employee for refusing to perform a sexual favor, but your case does not have to look like this to be actionable. Unlawful quid pro quo harassment occurs whenever a supervisor or manager demands that an employee accept any kind of sex-based misconduct in exchange for job benefits.
When Is an Employer Liable for Sexual Harassment?
In a sexual harassment case, you can take legal action against your employer, your harasser, or both. You can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, or a lawsuit in court.
In a complaint or lawsuit, you will likely be able to recover the most remedies from an employer. So, when is an employer responsible for the harassment its employee suffers at work?
An employer is automatically responsible for workplace harassment that is committed by a supervisor and the action ends in an adverse employment decision against the victim. An employer is also responsible for the harassment of non-supervisory employees and non-employees if the employer had control over the harasser, knew or should have known about the harassment, and cannot disprove the following elements:
- The employer did not promptly and appropriately address the harassment; and
- The victim did not unreasonably fail to use the employer’s procedures to correct or prevent the harassment.
There are many steps to making sure your employer is held accountable for any harassment it causes or enables. You increase your chances of a legal victory when you speak to an attorney about your experience, tell your harasser to stop their conduct, and understand and use your employer’s sexual harassment procedures to file a complaint at work.
We Are Here to Help
When a harasser threatens your safety and your peace of mind at work, you deserve a New Bedford harassment attorney who can protect you and maximize your recovery. At MA Employment Lawyers, we have more than 70 years of experience in protecting and fighting for employees. We are fierce advocates for employee rights, and we are here for you. If you need help, please call us directly or contact us online.