Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Everyone has the right to be free from unwanted touching or sexually suggestive comments and conversation. Long ago, the criminal justice system began recognizing the criminality of sexually suggestive conduct and, in many jurisdictions, those who engage in such behavior may be answerable in the form of fines or incarceration. The civil justice system has also responded to the disparaging notions of sexual harassment and recognizes a civil cause of action against any person who engages in sexual bullying, intimidation, or sexual coercion. It is also actionable if one person promises advantages or benefits to another in exchange for sexual favors.
Sexual harassment claims began to gain popularity as gender-based discrimination cases began reaching the nation’s Supreme Court docket. As women became more prevalent in the workplace, instances of sexual harassment became more widespread and were quickly considered unacceptable and, in most states, illegal. However, sexual harassment lawsuits do not only apply to women. The Supreme Court has held that any sexual harassment statute that applies only to females is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause and must be amended to contain gender-neutral language. As such, men and women alike can commence lawsuits against any person who engages in unwarranted sexual advances. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable whether perpetrated by a supervisor, colleague, or one in a subordinate position.
A cause of action separate from sexual harassment is that involving retaliation against the employee for filing a lawsuit or grievance against the responsible party. It is just as illegal to fire or demote an employee for reporting sexual harassment as it is to participate in actual sexual harassment. To find for a plaintiff on a theory of retaliation, the plaintiff must prove beyond a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s conduct with respect to the demotion or firing of the employee would be enough to dissuade a reasonable employee from reporting sexual harassment to the proper authorities.
Sexual Harassment Attorney
Evansville employment discrimination attorney Lane Siesky is experienced in sexual harassment cases and understands the sensitive, private and confidential nature of cases of this type. If you are fearful of retaliation or job loss as a result of reporting harassment, contact our offices. We will meet with you in privacy and can assure you that all conversations, even preliminary, will be held in the strictest confidence.