Sexual harassment is unwelcome or unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. It is not always overt. It can include physical, verbal, visual and subtle overtures. Sexual harassment may be gender-related but not necessarily sexually motivated.
To some sexual harassment may seem like harmless horseplay but it is far from that. It is not a joke nor an invitation to prey or victimize anyone. It robs victims of their dignity, pride, and respect.
Some victims of sexual harassment may not complain out of feelings of embarrassment, fear of being labeled a "whiner" and/or even retaliation from their employer. The bottom line is, sexual harassment is illegal and is a well-established law in our federal and Washington State Court systems.
There are names for different types of sexual harassment:
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment - This form of sexual harassment occurs in a person's place of employment. In this situation of sexual harassment, an employer offers an employee certain benefits, such as a job advancement or raise, in exchange for sexual favors. The employer may also use sex and sexual acts as a way to threaten an employee, such as implying that if the employee does not perform the sex acts that he or she will lose their job.
Hostile Workplace Sexual Harassment - This form of sexual harassment is when an employee is forced to work in a hostile environment due to sexual harassment in the workplace. Unwelcomed repeated lewd comments, sexist jokes, exhibiting enlarged sexual organs on dolls, dummies, etc., propositions, and offensive sexual stereotyping are examples of hostile workplace sexual harassment.
Jilted Paramour Sexual Harassment - It is not uncommon that when a relationship is broken, the harasser may retaliate either by anger, jealousy or revenge against the victim. For instance, the jilted paramour may be refused a promotional advancement, training or other job opportunities because of rejecting the harasser's advances.
Gender Stereotype Sexual Harassment - This type of harassment is leveled against a person because of their perceived or known sexual orientation. For instance, a woman may be considered a "butch" or a man considered effeminate.
Non-Traditional Jobs Held by a Different Gender - Traditionally, when someone said that they worked in a certain trade or profession, stereotyped impressions and preferences would be made about their gender. For instance, until recently, when one thought of a nurse, traditionally one would think of a woman. However, non-traditional jobs are held by both genders. As such, men who hold nontraditional jobs can also be victims of unwanted sexual advances, hostile working environment, and retaliation.
If you feel you have been the target or victim of sexual harassment by an employer or co-worker, you may want to:
Immediately put the harasser on notice that their behavior is unwelcome and unwanted. In most cases, this is enough to stop the behavior. However, if the harassment continues, contact your immediate supervisor or Human Resources. Make your complaint in writing.
If the harassment continues or if you are uncomfortable directly confronting the harasser, keep a record of all interactions you feel to be inappropriate. Included in your documentation should be all relevant dates, times, places and witnesses, if any.
Check your company's policy for any procedures that need to be followed in reporting sexual harassment claims. Where possible, your claim should be reported in writing. You should use any complaint or grievance system available to you.
If such a procedure does not exist, you should report the harassment to your direct supervisors. If your supervisor is the harasser, report your claim to their immediate supervisor and/or the Human Resource Department.
Once the alleged harassment is reported, your company is obligated by law to conduct an investigation and take immediate action against the harasser, if warranted.
If you feel your employer has not fulfilled this obligation and the harassment or retaliation has ensued, contact Beverly Grant Law Firm, P.S. at once. Please don't hesitate. Speak to an experienced attorney today!
Beverly Grant Law Firm, P.S. also represents men that have been falsely accused of sexual harassment in Lakewood, WA and the states of Washington and California. Each case is assessed on the totality of the circumstances, which may include many other factors such as their work history and demeanor. Traditionally women were usually the victims of unwanted sexual overtures both verbal and physical.
Today, men also hold non-traditional jobs, e.g. nurses, as contrasted to women in the building trades who have been subjected to unwelcome sexual overtures. Also, men can be victims of other men who have sexually harassed and the same for women who are sexually harassed by females. It is all about control, manipulation & power.
True or False: SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS NOT NECESSARILY GENDER SPECIFIC
Explanation: Traditionally women were usually the victims of unwanted sexual overtures both verbal and physical. Today, men also hold non-traditional jobs, e.g. nurses, as contrasted to women in the building trades who have been subjected to unwelcome sexual overtures.
True or False: SEXUAL HARASSMENT VICTIMS MUST BE OVER 18
Explanation: In some instances, physical overtures towards a minor child can subject the harasser to criminal charges, depending on the activities that s/he is complaining about in regards to the harasser.
Question: SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS USUALLY ABOUT:
E. All of the above
ANSWER: E. ALL OF THE ABOVE
True or False: ONLY AN EMPLOYER OR SUPERVISOR OR CO-WORKER CAN BE HELD LIABLE FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A vendor or third party can be held liable for sexual harassment and the company who contracted with him/her also can be held liable.
Question: SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS UNLIKELY TO EXIST IF THE ALLEGED VICTIM:
A. Participates in the banter;
B. Welcomes the physical gestures or touchings
C. Fails to let the alleged harasser know that he/ she takes offense to the acts
D. Fails to report the offensive conduct to
E. Suffers no adverse action (denial of a job benefit such as a promotion)
F. All or any of the above are factors that can and should be considered.
Explanation: The controlling word in sexual harassment is "welcomed". If the victim and harasser both participate in "friendly" banter, sexual harassment may be hard to prove, as the alleged victim is participating in the activities that s/he is complaining about in regards to the harasser after representing you!
Please be mindful that although I try to return calls personally, I or my associate review the facts of each intake call and determine from the facts which ones are in the areas of our practice or that we can help. If you do not receive a return call, it is likely that your case is not one that we can take either because it is not an area of law that we practice or due to our current workload (trial, court appearances, depositions, etc) we are unable to assist you. Please know that we value your time as well as ours It is important to know that until there is a fee agreement entered by the client and the firm, Beverly Grant Law Firm, P.S. does not represent you.