Dealing with Sexual Harassment at Work
By now, with all the headlines concerning the #metoo movement, one might assume that being sexually harassed at work would be less of a problem. The word is out that this is unacceptable behavior and professionals simply should know better. Unfortunately, there are many levels of harassment, and it’s not always easy to determine for yourself if you are being oversensitive or in fact are being harassed.
What you do know is that you are uncomfortable at work, and that deserves a second look. Other times, you are certain that you are a victim of sexual harassment at work and need to know your rights and the best way to handle it. In order to start on the same page, it’s helpful to define sexual harassment in legal terms. It’s also important to look at the difference between Federal law and Florida state law.
Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment at Work
When looking at Federal Harassment Law, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines general harassment according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They say that sex or gender-related harassment becomes unlawful when enduring it is necessary to keep your job and/or when most people would feel abused and intimidated. The point of the anti-discrimination laws is to empower the harassed individual to be able to speak out and get help with the harassment, with mitigated impact to their livelihood and personal rights.
They make a point to differentiate between petty comments, personality issues and isolated incidents as opposed to ongoing serious behaviors that erode the victim’s ability to do their job in a reasonably comfortable environment. That harassment can come from literally anyone at work, not limited to a direct supervisor – even a non-worker. A victim can be the object of the harassment, or even a peripheral person who is affected by the harassment of another. Further, you can be a victim of general harassment at work even if it hasn’t cost you financial trouble or loss of employment.
Florida Harassment Law is based on the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) of 1992, which affirms that it is unlawful to fire, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate against any person because of their sex. This includes actions that affect their compensation, terms of employment, conditions or any privileges relating to their employment.
Most larger workplaces will have an employee handbook that defines their policy regarding sexual harassment at work. These specific definitions may overlap federal and/or state law but may also add their own terms and specific unacceptable scenarios. These can also be used as reference in your situation. You will need the help of an experienced attorney to qualify your complaint and to plan the next steps.
There are many ways to approach a resolution through effective legal means. Tison Law Group can help you determine yours. Whether it involves saving your employment, ensuring a tenable work environment or being compensated for loss and damages, we are here to guide and fight for you. Contact us today to schedule your confidential, free consultation.