When you’ve experienced questionable treatment at work, you may not be sure where to turn—especially if the conduct was sexual in nature. Whether you’re worried about what your co-workers will think if you file a complaint or you’re worried about the status of your position once you’ve reported the harasser, it’s important to have Charleston sexual harassment lawyer by your side.
DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC is dedicated to helping victims of workplace discrimination—no matter what they’ve been through. We recognize the sensitive nature of sexual harassment claims, which is why we’ll handle your situation with the utmost respect. You’ll have access to the resources you need to hold the harasser accountable for their actions while knowing that your lawyer will help you every step of the way.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment is a kind of discrimination in the workplace that violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws. A variety of behaviors may constitute sexual harassment and both men and women can be targets. Perpetrators can be supervisors, co-workers, or non-employees of the same or opposite sex.
For an incident to be considered sexual harassment, the following elements must be present:
- Unwanted sexual advances or some other unwanted conduct
- The behavior must either cause tangible personnel actions or be so severe that it makes the work environment hostile
It’s important to note that sexual assault is a form of harassment. While most sexual harassment cases are based on a series of incidents, there are instances where a single incident is so severe it alters the terms and conditions of one’s employment.
Understanding the Difference Between Harassment and Discrimination
When you hear about workplace discrimination and harassment, you may wonder what the difference is between the two. Essentially, harassment is a form of employment discrimination. Harassment isn’t always sexual in nature. It can be any unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, gender or pregnancy, national origin, age, or disability or genetic information.
Determining liability for harassment depends on the perpetrator. If an employee is harassed by a supervisor, the employer is automatically responsible. The employer is also liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees. The only time an employer can avoid liability is if they can prove they tried to reasonably prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior and the employee failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
Overall, if your employment has been overtly affected or interrupted because of offensive, hostile, or sexual comments or actions, you are protected by state and federal laws and have the right to file a complaint to seek justice.
Laws Protecting Employees From Sexual Harassment
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to harass an applicant or employee because of their sex. As discussed, harassment and discrimination are different, but the two words are often used interchangeably outside of a legal context.
Harassment violates a number of federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
It’s important to note that the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not serious. Harassment only becomes illegal when it so frequent that it creates an offensive work environment. If you’re uncertain as to whether your situation prompts a valid claim, a sexual harassment attorney can help.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim
If you believe you are being sexually harassed, the first thing to do is document the harassment. Take notes on the unwanted behavior and add to your record as incidents occur. Retain any inappropriate or related emails, text messages, voicemails, and other evidence demonstrating inappropriate conduct.
Once you feel you have sufficient evidence, seek advice. If you speak to your company’s HR department and they are not cooperative, get in touch with an employment law attorney. Your lawyer will be able to determine if the behavior you’ve been subjected to meets the legal definition of sexual harassment.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of retaliation if you report an incident to your company’s human resource department, considering getting in touch with an attorney before speaking with anyone from your company.
In the event you decide to file an official complaint with the EEOC, it’s important to note that you only have 180 days to file a charge. If that deadline is not met, you will not be able to pursue further litigation.
Work With DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC
If you’ve been mistreated or harassed at work, a Charleston sexual harassment lawyer can help you take legal action to hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. We understand that victims of sexual harassment are often hesitant about coming forward; however, we will be by your side every step of the way if you choose to file a formal complaint.
Given the nature of these cases, filing can be complex. That’s why it’s best to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible if you think you have a valid case. Once you have us on board, we’ll evaluate your situation, conduct an investigation, and help you build a claim that proves you were wronged.
The sooner you get in touch with DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, the better your chances are of filing a successful claim. To learn more about your legal rights and options or to determine if you have grounds to file a complaint, contact us today.