No one should have to worry about harassment, of any kind, in the workplace. Unfortunately, however, many people do. Despite laws making sexual harassment in the workplace illegal, it continues to occur across the United States. As a victim, what should you do if you feel like you have been sexually harassed at work? For specific advice, consult an experienced Florida employment law attorney; however, the following steps are common steps that any victim of workplace harassment should take.
- Know the law. A basic understanding of what “sexual harassment” is according to the law is necessary to know if you are a victim of it. Harassment is prohibited in the workplace by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the federal level. At the state level, the Florida Civil Rights Act also prohibits harassment in the workplace. Unlawful harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct that an employee is required to endure as a condition of employment that creates a work environment that is “severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” When the harassment takes the form of sexual harassment, the conduct in question is sexual in nature. For example, being required to perform sexual favors for an employer in order to obtain or continue employment would be considered unlawful sexual harassment. Likewise, if you are subjected to continuous sexual innuendoes or “jokes” aimed at you to the point that you feel scared, intimidated, or ashamed to go to work each day that could also be considered unlawful sexual harassment.
- Report the conduct. Most large corporations and many smaller companies have written sexual harassment procedures that an employee should follow if he or she feels victimized. Typically, those procedures require you to file a formal complaint with a supervisor or with human resources. Of course, if the person to whom you would normally file a complaint is the perpetrator, it may not be realistic to file a formal complaint.
- Document the harassment. Whether you are able to file a formal complaint or not, document the harassment. Keep a daily journal in which you write down what occurred, where and when the harassment took place, and who saw or heard the conduct.
- Contact an attorney. If the sexual harassment continues, contact an experienced Florida employment law attorney. You have a right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment. If that right is violated, you may be entitled to pursue legal action.
Because each situation includes a unique set of facts and circumstances, it is always best to consult with an experienced Florida employment law attorney when you have questions about sexual harassment in the workplace.