Workplace Harassment Lawyer
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Thousands of employees are harassed each year while at work, and as a result file sexual harassment claims in order to be compensated for their often harrowing work situations. A 2015 survey found that about one in three women are sexually harassed in the workplace, and roughly 38 percent of those said the harasser was a male boss. More than 70 percent, however, did not report their situation to authorities.
Harassment is a very serious unlawful offense, and can lead to not only tough work environments but also retaliation from employers. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charges of retaliation associated with sexual harassment more than doubled in the last 20 years, to just under 40,000, overtaking charges of racial discrimination.
Forty percent of American women still claim they are subjected to sexual harassment at the workplace. Tens of thousands of employees are harassed each year, and although there is rarely an easy solution to the problem, many victims file lawsuits and are well compensated for their humiliating ordeals.
In 2015, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing received over 4,800 complaints of sexual harassment. The majority of such cases—around 67 percent—are ruled in the plaintiff’s favor when taken to litigation.
Of the women who said they’ve experienced workplace sexual harassment, less than 30 percent reported the incidents to their employers or took legal action.
The study stresses that sexual harassment in the workplace is still a problem, and has taken on new forms. In the past where harassment may have been quite aggressive, now it may be more difficult to identify. It can be passing comments in meetings or even suggestive comments on social media.
According to media sources, attorneys across the country and reports from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), workplace harassment complaints cost employers millions of dollars in lawsuit settlement payments and judgments each year.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated hostile work lawyer and sexual harassment attorney representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of complex litigation cases and Cincinnati workplace sexual harassment claims.
Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
There can be a difference between what an individual employee feels is harassment and what constitutes illegal harassment under federal, state and local laws.
Merely being bothered by a supervisor or co-worker, while unfortunate, does not necessarily mean you have a legal harassment claim.
Sexual harassment can include the following:
- Requests for sexual favors
- Sexual advances
- Sexual conduct that may affect employment decisions
- Behavior sufficiently severe as to create an intimidating, hostile environment
- Harassing behavior that persists despite objection by the victim
It is important to note that by law, the victim doesn’t necessarily have to be the person being harassed; it can be anyone affected by the harassing behavior.
Also, workplace sexual harassment doesn’t preclude harassment between two people of the same gender.
Verbal & Written Harassment—comments regarding a person’s clothing, personal behavior, personal relationships, and body are all ill-advised at the workplace. Other examples of clear sexual harassment are making sexual or sex-based jokes or innuendoes, requesting sexual favors, asking employees on dates, spreading rumors, and threatening an employee for rejecting sexual advances. Posting sexual pin-ups or posters can be illegal as well.
Physical—blocking someone’s movement at the workplace, and inappropriately touching a person or their clothing can be construed as harassment. Any actions that involve kissing, hugging, patting, or stroking can be grossly harassing. Staring at a worker’s body, making lewd gestures or following a person can also be harassing offenses.
ABOUT THE LYON FIRM
Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.
The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.
NO COST UNLESS WE WIN
The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
The two most common types of sexual harassment in the workplace are referred to as quid pro quo and hostile environment:
- “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment occurs when it is stated or implied that an employment decision depends on whether the employee submits to conduct of a sexual nature. For example, if an employee is made to believe that a promotion is likely if the employee goes on a date with the supervisor, the employee is being subjected to sexual harassment.
- Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive working environment. Some conduct can be so severe that even one incident can be basis for a legal claim of workplace sexual harassment.
Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Harassment can be most intimidating when it comes from a boss or supervisor, leaving an employee feeling trapped and vulnerable. However, the harasser can also be a co-worker or even a non-employee.
Petty insults, minor annoyances, and isolated incidents typically are not basis for legal action. To be unlawful, the conduct must create an offensive, intimidating or hostile work environment.
Common verbal harassment can include:
- Offensive jokes or insults
- Ridicule and name-calling
Though physical harassment is less common than verbal harassment, it is often more severe. Physical harassment includes:
- Other touching
Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment
- Unwanted Personal Attention: Unwanted attention can include letters, telephone calls, visits, pressure for sexual favors, or pressure for unnecessary personal interaction with a sexual/romantic intent.
- Unwanted Sexual Statements: Harassing comments may include sexual or “dirty” jokes, remarks on physical attributes, spreading sexual rumors, talking about sexual activity in front of others, or displaying and distributing sexually explicit materials. Unwanted sexual statements can be presented in person, in writing, or electronically via e-mail, blogs, or other social media.
- Unwanted Physical or Sexual Advances: Physical harassment may include touching, hugging, kissing, fondling, touching oneself sexually for others to view, or any unwanted sexual activity.
Employer Liability for Harassment Incidents
An Ohio employer is automatically liable for workplace harassment by a supervisor that results in termination, failure to promote or hire, or loss of wages.
If the supervisor’s harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove both that they attempted to prevent and quickly correct the harassing behavior, and the harasser rejected the corrective efforts provided by the employer.
Employers have a responsibility to create a comfortable work environment, free from harassing of any nature. When an employer fails to protect workers from workplace sexual harassment, legal action is an option for the victims.
Some claims make their way before a jury, though out-of-court settlements often are more attractive to employers. Harassment lawsuits can be costly, so out-of-court settlements save employers the time and expense of defending their employment practices.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports thousands of charges of workplace harassment each year, and attorneys recover millions of dollars on the behalf of victims who file harassment claims.
How to File a Lawsuit
- Document everything—if any offers or threats are being made, write down the date, time, place and any witnesses. You want to start a paper trail. Don’t worry if there are no direct witnesses, others may have noticed the situation from afar. Write down any comments about your gender being inferior, or sexual comments. If the harasser is texting or emailing; keep copies. Don’t delete them. Don’t put your notes on a work computer, or on the work premises. If you are terminated, you may be prevented from taking your notes from your work computer.
- Report the harassment—reporting sexual harassment is a requirement before you can file a lawsuit. You must give an employer a chance to correct the situation. Say “No” and tell the person that their behavior offends you. Firmly refuse all invitations. Carefully follow any company harassment policy, and report your concerns to HR and management in writing. Following any conversation about incidents, document the gist of the talk in e-mails to those involved. Once a company is notified of a harasser, it is liable, in the event of sexual harassment claims if they do not correct the situation.
- File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—after you file a harassment complaint at work and the employer does not take action, file with the EEOC. You have between 180 and 300 days from the date of discrimination to file. You are protected from retaliation when you file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. If you belong to a union, it is a good idea to contact them as well.
- Make exit plans—if your company dos not correct a hostile work environment and you don’t feel safe, look for a job elsewhere. Stand up for the right to a safe work atmosphere. Your employer has a duty to keep your workplace free of sexual harassment.
- Hire an experienced attorney—contact an employment lawyer in your region who understands hostile work lawsuits and Cincinnati sexual harassment settlements.
- File a lawsuit—as a last resort, and after you file a formal complaint with the EEOC or a state fair employment agency, you may consider filing a lawsuit. Compensation can vary in financial remedies, though some sexual harassment claims can be very valuable. When you decide to bring a claim against your employer, contact an experienced labor attorney.
Sexual Harassment Settlements
Sexual assault and harassment claims have been plaguing many organizations and institutions as more and more victims come forward, emboldened by the #MeToo movement. Victims and their sexual harassment lawyer have targeted sexual predators in athletic abuse lawsuits, church abuse allegations and hostile work environment settlements.
Sexual harassment and abuse is never a comfortable situation and victims may be hesitant to make themselves known. However, it is essential that sexual predators be named to protect others, and compensation may be sought for abuse victims.
• In March, 2017, a production associate at Tesla filed a lawsuit against his employer for what he refers to as “a racially charged, sexually hostile and physically abusive environment.” This lawsuit follows another recently publicized lawsuit against Tesla over allegations of sexism and harassment.
• In 2016, a jury awarded almost $8 million to a former Chipotle Mexican Grill employee in Houston after she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit. The jury determined that the girl was sexually assaulted and sexually harassed by a manager and that at least one other manager was aware.
• In July, 2016, a federal judge ordered Z Foods, Inc., a large dried fruit processors, to pay $1.5 million in damages in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC charged that Z Foods allowed male supervisors to sexually harass female employees and fired certain employees when they complained about the harassment. The court awarded the maximum allowed by the statute, ruling that the claimants suffered severe emotional distress as a result of actions of Z Foods.
• In 2015, a California court awarded $2 million to a truck driver trainee, who claimed that she was sexually harassed and physically abused by her driving trainer. The trainee indicated that the trucking company would not pay for separate motel rooms for co-drivers, pressuring her to spend the night in the same motel room with her trainer, where the harassment and abuse took place.
Why are these cases important?
Businesses need to be held accountable for the way they treat and compensate workers. Discrimination, unpaid wages, harassment and labor law violations can be litigated in order to properly compensate employees and prevent others from experiencing the same violations in the future.