It’s no secret that women are statistically paid less than men in the work place. But, insult to injury, in alarming numbers women are the target of unwanted sexual advances and assaults. And, pregnant women are often looked upon as a liability and unfairly fired because they are now “in a family way”. Neither is good for employers, employees or the economy and Title VII of the U.S. Code of laws makes it illegal and can “right” such a wrong.
Sexual harassment is not asking a co-worker out on a date or showing an interest. We are human and there will be attraction, even at work. “Harassment” is not taking “no” for an answer and then continuing on, making that uninterested person’s work life (and sometimes home life) unbearable. Repeated unwanted sexual references, inappropriate touching, and bullying because the attraction is not returned, making someone’s workplace hostile because the interested party (often the boss or boss’ boss) did not get his way, is “harassment”. And, sexual harassment also happens to men by women. The numbers are not as large, but I’ve handled graphic cases where a women manager acts as a sexual predator in the work place towards men.
Report the harassment to your workplace’s upper management. Put your complaint in writing, so later there is no discrepancy about the complaint’s content and subject, and make it clear who is doing the harassing and why. The federal law will protect against workplace sexual harassment when the employer has 15 or more employees. Reporting the harassment to management gives the employer an opportunity to correct the situation. If helpful corrective action is not taken, and the harassment continues or gets worse, the employer is then also responsible for the offending acts. If the employer responds by blaming the harassed employee, demoting or firing the complaining employee, then the employer is responsible for the harassment and retaliation. Remember, if all else fails, you only have 300 days from the offending act(s) to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about a Title VII violation, i.e., harassment or termination based upon your sex, pregnancy, race, age, disability, nationality or ethic background. Contact an attorney experienced in this area of the law.