If you're facing sexual harassment on the job, you're not alone. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives sexual harassment complaints from more than 7,500 workers in an average fiscal year. While these numbers are worrisome, they're likely just the tip of the iceberg, as EEOC estimates indicate that as many as 75 percent of workers don't formally report their harassment.
Despite its prevalence, employment sexual harassment is illegal. It's prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA), which provides even broader protections.
At Bailess Law Firm, our exceptional team of employment attorneys help workers who've survived workplace sexual harassment hold their employers accountable, reclaim their dignity, and recover damages for their losses. Here's what you should know about identifying on-the-job sexual harassment, as well as what you can do about it.
Recognizing Workplace Sexual Harassment
People subjected to sexual harassment at work are often hesitant to report their experiences, especially if they don't match up to the depictions of harassment they've seen in movies or on television. In fact, it's common for clients to second-guess themselves or worry that they're making something out of nothing. In our experience, that's rarely the case.
The truth is that on-the-job sexual harassment involves a lot more than just inappropriate touching, or promises of advancement (or threats of demotion) in exchange for sex. The West Virginia Human Rights Commission defines workplace sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:
- Compliance is made a term or condition of employment or exchanged for job benefits
- Submission to (or rejection of) the harassing conduct is used as the basis for making employment decisions
- The conduct in question unreasonably interferes with work performance or creates a working environment that's intimidating, hostile, or offensive
This definition includes a broad range of harassing conduct, including frequent sexual comments, lewd jokes and remarks, inappropriate comments about appearance or sex lives, and more.
Fast Facts About Employment Sexual Harassment Cases
- While many harassers are men and many survivors are women, both sexual harassers and sexual harassment survivors may be men or women. Additionally, the harasser and their target do not have to be of the opposite sex.
- Potential sources of sexual harassment in the workplace include supervisors, agents of the employer, and coworkers, as well as non-employees, such as vendors, clients, or customers.
- Anyone affected by the offensive conduct and hostile working environment can take action to seek a legal remedy, even if they weren't the target of the sexual harassment.
Reporting the Harassment
Reporting sexual harassment is not always easy. You can always contact us at Bailess Law Firm to discuss your options if you are considering reporting the sexual harassment. In most cases, reporting the sexual harassment is essential to triggering the employer's duty to act and stop the sexual harassment. Who you report the sexual harassment to often times depends on the source of the sexual harassment.
- Being harassed by a client, customer, or vendor? Report the harassment to a supervisor or your company's human resources department.
- Facing sexual harassment from a supervisor or business owner? Report it to a different supervisor or owner, or to human resources.
- You can also report sexual harassment via a company complaint hotline for employees.
Our Attorneys Can Help You Hold Your Employer Accountable
If your employer fails to take meaningful action to stop on-the-job harassment, it's time to bring in an experienced employment lawyer who can help you fight for your rights, as well as damages. Bailess Law Firm's compassionate and accomplished team of employment attorneys can help you build a strong case to potentially recover lost wages, emotional distress damages, and other losses.
Contact Us to Discuss Your West Virginia Employment Sexual Harassment Case
If you're being sexually harassed on the job, don't suffer in silence. You have a legal right to work in a safe environment that's free of sexual harassment. Let our skilled team help you assert those rights, restore your dignity, and hold your employer accountable. Contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation and download our book It's Not Your Fault: How to Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace for more information.