Defining Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If a colleague makes a joke in passing about your body or decides to ask you for your phone number, you may feel as if that is sexual harassment. However, there are several criteria that must be met for an action to actually rise to that level. Let’s take a look at some of those criteria in detail as well as the possible recourse that you may have if you are the victim of wrongful dismissal after making a claim. The experts at Whitten & Lublin may be able to provide more insights if you require additional information.

Is There a Pattern of Unacceptable Conduct?

There must be a pattern of conduct that occurs over a period of time and leads to a hostile working environment. For instance, if a colleague is consistently making comments about your body or asking you out on dates, it may be labeled as sexual harassment. However, if you were asked out on a date one time or someone made a joke in passing, it may simply be labeled as annoying or something that the victim and the offender will be asked to work out on their own.

Do You Have Proof That Harassment Has Occurred?

You will need to be able to prove that sexual harassment has taken place. This may occur by saving copies of emails containing lewd comments or saving voicemail messages that have sexual overtones. To further bolster your case, it may be a good idea to find witnesses to the behavior or other people who may have been victimized by this same person or by someone else within the company.

Were You Disciplined After Rejecting Sexual Advances?

It may be possible to prove that sexual harassment took place if you were rewarded for accepting sexual advances and punished for refusing them. For instance, if you were put on written warning or demoted because you wouldn’t sleep with your boss or go out on a date with him or her, that could be evidence of intimidation. If you were disciplined after you filed a claim of harassment, that may be harassment in itself, and it such retaliation is generally considered to be illegal.

What Happens If You Are Wrongfully Terminated?

If you are wrongfully terminated, you have the right to take your employer to court. In some cases, you may be able to get your job back assuming that you still want it. Otherwise, you may be able to obtain compensation for back pay and benefits that you lost because of your firing.

Sexual harassment is something that no worker should be subjected to. However, if you are, make sure that you have solid proof before you file a claim. Otherwise, you could be putting your career on the line without any guarantee that you will get justice. The experts at Whitten & Lublin may be able to provide more insights if you require additional information.