You Love Your Job, But Feel You May Be the Victim of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Unfortunately, it happens more often than we realize, and it comes in many different forms. However it occurs, workplace sexual harassment is ultimately a violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. It can come in the form of a supervisor or manager making unwanted sexual advances toward an employee, either physically or verbally. Other times it is the employer implying that an employee must perform a sexual favor in order stay employed or to be promoted. Still, other times an employer may use the employee’s sexual rejection as the basis for creating a hostile work environment.
In all these circumstances, the person being harassed may truly love all other aspects about their job, or may simply need the paycheck. Thus, as the victim, an individual may feel powerless to act. However, there are many ways to handle this situation without the concern of creating a hostile workplace.
To begin, it is important to speak up. There are numerous instances in which the responsible party does not realize their conduct is offensive. Therefore, putting the offending party on notice may resolve the issue, as many offenders will stop out of a sincere concern for their inappropriate behavior or because they do not wish to create any further workplace tension.
Unfortunately though, putting the harasser on notice does not always stop the harassment. When this happens, it is important for you, as the victim, to review your company policies to determine if there is a specific procedure for handling such situations. If there is a company policy for handling sexual harassment, you should carefully and completely follow the procedure, and you should make note of any time limits that may be in place.
Some companies may not have a specific procedure for handling or reporting sexual harassment. In such a situation, you should immediately seek out your supervisor to report the harassment, as the company’s management should be made aware of the inappropriate conduct.
Throughout these informal actions, it is important to keep a written record of the harassment, the complaints reported, and any other incidents which may be related to the harassment (e.g., retaliation by the harasser for complaining or reporting the harassment). Your written record should include the dates, times, people involved, what happened, and what was said.
It is never a wrong for anyone to speak with an attorney and ask questions in order to determine both: (1) if they are the victims of workplace sexual harassment; and, if so, (2) what action should be taken. When you, as a victim, speak with an experienced attorney, the attorney will ask you to initially explain why you are there, i.e., what is the situation that is making you feel harassed and uncomfortable at work. Once the attorney has determined that you are the victim of workplace sexual harassment, they will begin taking the necessary steps to protect your legal rights and remedy your situation.
First, the attorney will pursue an administrative charge with the appropriate government agency, e.g., the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After the government agency has investigated your claim, they will attempt to negotiate and resolve your issues. If, however, the agency is unable to resolve your claim, you will be issued a “right to sue” letter, allowing your attorney to pursue your case in civil court.
Your attorney will develop the appropriate strategy for pursuing your claim, including initial negotiations and filing suit for injuries suffered (in a sexual harassment claim, this is most likely not physical injuries; rather the suit will likely be for emotional injuries).
As a part of the strategy for handling your case, an experienced attorney will discuss possible and appropriate remedies, including, but not limited to:
- Reinstatement, if you lost your job;
- Back pay (which may be multiplied) for lost money or a retaliatory lost raise;
- Lost fringe benefits;
- Monetary damages for emotional distress;
- Attorney’s fees and court costs; and
- Implementation of policies and/or training to stop future harassment.
Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney in Kansas City
At Hollingshead, Paulus, and Eccher, we assist those who have suffered from workplace sexual harassment, by taking necessary steps to protect your rights, determining the appropriate remedy for your specific situation, and ensuring that justice is served. If you feel you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, do not hesitate to reach out today. We are here to help you.