Unfortunately, anyone who goes into the workplace will experience uncomfortable situations. Everyone has experienced a grumpy boss, an annoying coworker, or a flirtatious supervisor. While uncomfortable, these types of normal workplace annoyances are something the law expects us to withstand.
However, there are times when a supervisor or coworker’s behavior goes far beyond what is acceptable, and into the realm of sexual harassment. This is unwanted behavior of a sexual nature that is so severe or pervasive that it makes it nearly impossible to do your job.
The Supreme Court has defined sexual harassment as follows:
unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual (both quid pro quo harassment), or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment (condition of work harassment).
But, even if you feel you have experienced sexual harassment, your first step is not the court system. The Supreme Court has held that an employee must take all steps offered by her employer to complain about the harassment before she has a right to go to court.
So what should you do if you are experiencing sexual harassment? The first step is to locate your company’s employee manual (if there is one) or sexual harassment policy. Find out who that policy says you need to bring complaints to, and do so. If that doesn’t help, go up the chain of command. Complain to that person’s supervisor. Give your employer all possible opportunities to correct the problem on their own.
Hopefully, your employer will take action to put a stop to the harassment. But if they do not, you should consult an attorney. An attorney can help you to file a charge of discrimination with the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and take your matter before a federal court if necessary. Don’t put up with sexual harassment. If your attempts to resolve sexual harassment on your own have been unsuccessful, and the justice system is your only recourse, call James Radford at Parks, Chesin & Walbert, P.C., at (404) 873 8000.