Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is usually divided into two main categories: Quid Pro Quo, which are overt and explicit demands or requests for sex in return for favors, benefits, and privileges, and Hostile Environment, which refers to a workplace that is permeated with sexually offensive language and innuendo.
Hostile environments, a type of workplace harassment, are the most difficult to prove. It is more than occasional jokes, dirty comments, or minor flirtations; instead, it involves much more severe instances. These include repeated unwanted and offensive sexual advances by the supervisor or co-worker and the display of offensive or pornographic images in the employee's work area.
An employee may file a Title VII claim with the EEOC if the employer is
- an employer that has fifteen or more employees, excluding employees whose employment is outside the employer's central business,
- an educator, employer, or labor union, with direct control over an employee's employment,
- an agent of any of the above, or
- A public agency.
When an employee files a claim with the EEOC, the following remedies are available:
- reinstatement of employment if they have been terminated;
- an award of lost wages and other job-related losses;
- punitive money damages; and
- Injunctive relief includes the following:
- (i) ordering the offender to cease the unwanted sexual harassment;
- (ii) creating a comprehensive written sexual harassment policy; and,
- (iii) paying the employee's attorney's fees.
Most states have enacted Fair Employment Practice (FEP) laws prohibiting workplace sexual harassment and advanced sexual harassment training requirements. However, unlike Title VII, most state FEPs do not address or provide procedures by which an employee may recover personal injury damages in a sexual harassment claim.
Suppose the company's sexual harassment policy requires the employee to follow the procedures and steps for reporting sexual harassment. In that case, the employee must do so before she can consider filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a state Fair Employment Practices Agency.
The EEOC and State's Fair Employment Practice Agencies usually use alternate dispute resolution (ADR) services to resolve a sexual harassment dispute without formal legal involvement and excessive expense. For example, they may offer mediation, pre-hearings, and settlement conferences. A few states also provide an administrative law forum to hear the case and present evidence and issue a recommended decision that may be substituted for the judgment of a lower court judge.
For Title VII complaints (including sexual harassment) or EEO complaints (including discrimination and harassment), an employee can pursue a potential claim with the EEOC or state FEP agency. If the agency cannot resolve the complaint of discrimination through dialogue, conciliation, persuasion, or negotiating a settlement offer, by law, it has to refer the complaint to the courts.
The employee must file a lawsuit within 90 days of the agency's failure to settle. The court may grant you up to 30 additional days to file a complaint if there are "good reasons."
You must file your lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the right-to-sue letter from the government. Otherwise, you will permanently lose your right to file a lawsuit.
The most common process to file suit under FEP is wrongful termination. Most FEP laws do not expressly provide for the recovery of physical, emotional, and mental damages, but the U.S. Civil Rights Act does. Determining whether the private employer meets specific guidelines stipulated by this law is essential to determine whether the process of filing suit is viable.
In addition to sexual harassment at work, there are also several problems related to leaving the workplace due to sexual harassment. For example, it may not be possible to continue working at the same workplace, which could lead to loss of income or promotion opportunities. It can also lead to denial of promotions as a result of being potentially considered a threat.
Sexual harassment within a legal, academic, or work environment is a relatively uncommon form of discrimination but equally severe. These claims may be brought under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. This includes harassment by faculty and professors against students and sexual harassment by students against other students.