You’ve probably heard about “sexual harassment” in the workplace, but far too many times this behavior goes unidentified. Since 1964, sexual harassment in the workplace has been prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but unfortunately this is still a problem today.
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace and therefore it’s important to be able to identify sexual harassment and know how to stop it.
What is sexual harassment?
There are two types of sexual harassment:
1. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment is behavior by management or a supervisory employee with power to act for the company, which requires an employee to either submit to sexual advances for employment benefits or promotions, or forfeit these job benefits if the advances are denied.
2. Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
Hostile work environment is conduct or remarks of a sexual nature that are unwelcome, and so severe or pervasive, they can create a hostile or abusive work environment. This requires more than a one-off comment.
Who can be affected?
In short, anyone can be affected by sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur whether the harasser is a male or female, or whether the victim is male or female, or whether the victim and harasser are of the same sex.
What should you do to stop sexual harassment?
Depending on the circumstances there are different ways to put a stop to the inappropriate conduct. If you believe the harassment will not be stopped by indicating your disapproval of the harasser’s behavior, you should try reporting the harassment.
Most companies have procedures for reporting sexual harassment and therefore you should follow your company’s reporting policy. If your circumstances make it difficult or impossible to report, you should contact an attorney for advice.
What if the behavior continues?
If the behavior continues, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. The State of Texas requires you file a charge of discrimination within 180 days from the date of the discriminatory act and within 300 days under the applicable federal laws. These deadlines are important because if you fail to file before the 180 or 300 days, your claim will be barred and you will no longer be able to file a lawsuit for the unlawful conduct. It is not advisable to file a claim on your own without first consulting an attorney.
What happens if I report the harassment or file a charge of discrimination?
Both Texas and federal law prohibit your employer from retaliating against you for a good faith report of sexual harassment. A report of sexual harassment includes a complaint to your company about the behavior as well as filing a charge of discrimination. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee your employer will follow this law but there may be additional claims against those employers who chose to ignore this law and retaliate against employees who report this type of behavior.
If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment, or if your employer retaliated against you for reporting sexual harassment, please contact our office immediately 817-479-9229 to speak with an experienced employment law attorney.