Among workplace complaints, sexual harassment is sadly all too common. Coverage of “Time’s Up” and related movements has shown how harassment persists even in the most high-profile environments. It’s important to know what behaviors constitute harassment and what to do if it happens to you.
How Harassment Happens
Sexual harassment can be categorized as either physical or mental. Physical harassment covers any unwanted and unnecessary bodily contact such as touching, hugging, kissing and so on. Mental harassment may be classed as verbal or nonverbal. Nonverbal forms include lewd gestures, leering or displaying sexually graphic material. Verbal harassment includes open advances or other explicit comments toward coworkers. Whatever their stripe, conditions of severe and persistent harassment make a workplace what’s legally termed a “hostile environment.”
Besides such clear-cut activities, verbal harassment can also fall under the legal concept of “quid pro quo.” In short, this refers to any circumstance where a victim is offered or receives a job-related reward in exchange for sexual favors, or punishment for denial of favors.
How To Handle Harassment
There are standard procedures for victims to combat harassment. Always, but especially where there could be plausible deniability, begin by alerting your HR person and your boss of the situation (or your boss’s boss as the case may be.) If these meetings prove unproductive, go to their bosses. Make everyone in authority aware of what’s happening, and establish on record that the acts in question are definitely unwelcome as far as you’re concerned.
Failing an internal remedy, you can start exploring your options with an employment law attorney Orlando. You may be compelled to seek redress through mediation by a state employment agency before you can sue. However, it’s not a bad idea to hire a lawyer early on to decode the complicated government paperwork. Certainly, you’ll want a ready advocate if you do eventually wind up in front of a judge.
Sexual harassment cannot and should not be tolerated. Be prepared to keep your job harassment-free for the future.