Sexual harassment can happen to any employee, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It can be direct or indirect. The number of sexual harassment grievances filed with EEOC gradually decreased in recent years, falling from 12,510 in 2007 to 11,717 in 2010. The majority of complaints came from women; however, men filed 16.4 percent of the complaints. Of the women filing complaints, 43 percent were sexually harassed by a supervisor; 27 percent were harassed by a senior employee; 19 percent were harassed by a fellow co-worker and 8 percent were harassed by a junior employee.
Only 5 to 15 percent of female employees report sexual harassment out of shame, guilt at being harassed, feeling that nothing will be done about it, fear of losing their jobs or hurting their chances of advancement. Men are less likely to report sexual harassment because of masculine stereotypes or the fear of their sexuality being scrutinized.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or requests for sexual favors when rejection or submission affects an employee’s employment, impacts his or her work performance or creates a hostile work environment.
If sexual harassment results in an employee being fired, demoted or assigned to unfavorable work assignments or subjected to a hostile work assignment, the employer will be held liable unless the employer can show that he or she took reasonable steps to prevent and correct the problem and the employee unreasonably failed to utilize the company’s corrective and preventative measures. An employer can also be held liable if he or she was aware of the harassment and did not take corrective and preventative measures to rectify the problem.
Our attorneys specialize in all areas of employment law, including sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a very emotionally stressful experience, and you need an employment attorney with experience handling cases of this sensitive nature. Your attorney should be able to explain your rights under the law and prepare you for the legal battle ahead of you.