Sexual harassment cases have increased with the recent economic depression for both male and female employees. Tight competition and means to stay on job have placed employees into a vulnerable sexually abusive situation.
The Civil Rights Act Title VII includes anti-sexual harassment laws that protect employees from unwanted sexual advances and hostile work environment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles and monitors cases of sexual harassment filed by both male and female employees against co-employees or superiors.
Sexual harassment is defined as verbal/ non verbal sexual behavior or requests for sexual favors that influences a person's employment status or creates a hostile work environment.
Two kinds of sexual harassment
1. Quid Pro Quo- When a superior (boss/manager) commits actions of unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors in exchange for employment promotion or threat of termination.
2. Hostile Work Environment- Inappropriate sexually-suggestive actions that create an offensive work environment. It includes showing of nude pictures, ridicule, or jokes.
An employee who complains on a sexually-suggestive photograph must provide proof that such constitutes an offensive work environment. Specific situations where an employee asking a co-employee on a date does not necessarily constitute sexual harassment unless the request is pervasive.
An employer has several defenses against a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against their executives or supervisors. These are:
1. Reasonable steps and company discipline measures are implemented to prevent or correct sexual harassment in the workplace.
2. The employee did not report a sexual harassment incidence or use the available grievance process to file a complaint.
The court will evaluate a sexual harassment case based on the following factors:
1. Frequency of the unwanted sexual advances or offensive sexual behavior
2. Severity of the sexual action
3. Behavior of the victim
4. Context of the sexual harassment
5. Number of employees and nature of business
7. Reasonableness of the behavior and reaction of the victim
Here are some clarifications on sexual harassment lawsuit:
1. Sexual harassment lawsuit can be filed by a male employee. Nowadays, there is an increasing rate of sexual harassment complaints filed by male workers.
2. Same gender sexual harassment lawsuit can be filed. The U.S. Supreme court accepts complaints on male-male or female-female sexual harassment.
3. Sexual harassment can occur in other types of workplace. One example is in school, where a teacher can sexually harass a student. Education Amendments Title IX has stipulated prohibitions and penalties on cases of teacher-student sexual harassment.
Consult with an Employment Law Attorney in Los Angeles to learn more on how you can file a lawsuit.