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.
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:
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.
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The two most common types of sexual harassment in the workplace are referred to as quid pro quo and hostile environment:
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:
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.
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.
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.