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EMPLOYEE RIGHTS – Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a specific type of sex discrimination that occurs when a person harasses another based upon that person’s sex. Although most people think of sexual harassment as a male sexually harassing a female, the victim and the harasser can be either female or male, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Am I being sexually harassed?

Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual gestures, comments, texts, or emails and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. The comments also do not always need to be directed at the employee for the employee to have a legal claim for harassment.

Although law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated or infrequent incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile, offensive, oppressive or intimidating work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as being fired or demoted. Sexual harassment may also occur when unwanted sexual favors are explicitly or implicitly demanded by a supervisor or manager as a condition of continued employment or to keep or receive better conditions of employment, such as an increase in pay, promotion, or overtime.

If an employee believe he/she is being sexually harassed it is important that the employee follow the company’s sexual harassment reporting policy. If the company does not have a sexual harassment reporting policy, the employee should report the harassment to management or human resources. This allows the employer to investigate the allegation, take steps to correct the problem, and prevent future harassment. In some circumstances, failure to follow a company’s reporting policy can negatively affect an employee’s claim of sexual harassment.

Employees who believe that they have been a victim of sexual harassment must act quickly to protect their rights. If you believe you have been sexually harassed contact our office for a free consultation. You can also contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Florida Commission on Human Rights to file a charge of discrimination.

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