Sexual harassment is often talked about, but less often understood. Understanding the complexities of sexual harassment can not only help you avoid a false accusation, but will also help you know what to do if you are accused.
What Can Be Considered Sexual Harassment?
According to LegalMatch, sexual harassment occurs when someone directs unwanted sexual conduct or contact that creates a hostile and offensive environment. A victim of sexual harassment can be a man or a woman. The victim can be of the same sex as the harasser. The harasser can be a supervisor, co-worker, another employee, or a non-employee who has a business relationship with the workplace. Sexual harassment is prohibited under federal laws (including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) state laws.
When many people think of sexual harassment in the workplace they often think of the stereotypical “quid pro quo harassment” where a person in power gives a reporting employee a choice between completing sexual favors or getting fired. But while this does happen, it is the rarest type of workplace sexual harassment. Sexual harassment accusations are often more vague.
According to the U.S. Department of State, sexual harassment can look like:
- Sexual pranks, or repeated sexual teasing, jokes, or innuendo, in person or via e-mail;
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature;
- Touching or grabbing of a sexual nature;
- Repeatedly standing too close to or brushing up against a person;
- Repeatedly asking a person to socialize during off-duty hours when the person has said no or has indicated he or she is not interested (supervisors in particular should be careful not to pressure their employees to socialize);
- Giving gifts or leaving objects that are sexually suggestive;
- Repeatedly making sexually suggestive gestures;
- Making or posting sexually demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons or other materials in the workplace;
- Off-duty, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that affects the work environment.
Sexual harassment accusations can also result from viewing pornography at work, or sharing sexually suggestive material with colleagues. It can involve sexual advances or simply sexual comments.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission both protect employees from sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment. The laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees and to all state and local governmental entities regardless of how many employees they have, according to their websites. Sexual harassment — which is considered a form of discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
What To Do If You’re Accused
If you’re convicted of sexual harassment, the penalties can be severe – ranging from disciplinary action from your employer to termination from your job to even jail time! That’s why you need an experienced defense attorney to help get your charges dropped! If you’re accused of sexual harassment, LegalMatch recommends some important tips that will help your case and help prove your innocence:
- Take the allegations seriously when you are notified directly by a co-worker or indirectly by other employees, supervisors or human resource personnel.
- Start recording your interactions with the co-worker and write down everything you can recall from prior incidents.
- Ask the employer to identify what steps will be taken by them to determine in good faith the facts of the allegations.
- You may also wish to cooperate with any investigation undertaken by the company to determine whether the allegations against you can be substantiated. It is important that you identify any witnesses and provide any statements or documentation that may support the facts in your version of what occurred.
- Consult with an attorney who can help you to respond to the allegations or help with mediation efforts by the company to resolve the issues without resorting to litigation. Consulting with your attorney can also help you to decide how best to respond if the investigation finds that you did sexually harass your colleague. This will also help in anticipating penalties, such as being required to issue an apology, termination, or participation in sensitivity training.
It’s important to remember that taking the accusations seriously and following the appropriate measures protects everyone within a workplace, says Fast Company. Also remember that if you are fired for invalid reasons, you have the right to take legal action against your employer.
Were you falsely accused of sexual harassment in Naples, Florida? Are your charges are far more severe than what you deserve? Get the experienced legal assistance you’re entitled to. You have the right to effectively tell your side of the story. Call 239-226-0888 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Michael M. Raheb, P.A.
2423 First Street,
Fort Myers FL 33901
Fax Number: 866-949-0888