Sexual harassment is a more common issue than you would think. Sexual harassment in the workplace is far too prevalent. Anyone can experience sexual harassment at any level of their career. The EEOC definition is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” It’s essential to know one of the most prevalent forms of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment. It’s also essential to know common misunderstandings that people have on sexual harassment that are still important to the case.
What is hostile work environment?
Any employee within the workplace can make someone feel like they are in a hostile work environment. This doesn’t have to be just supervisors, coworkers can create a hostile work environment as well. This is when a harasser brings unwelcome conduct. This ultimately makes the person who is getting harassed feel uncomfortable. It can be seen as intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Two misconceptions that people have in regards to a hostile work environment is that it has to threaten the employment of the individual and/or has to be targeted directly at them. This is not always the case. Hostile work environment comes from unwelcome conduct but as well as harassment based on sex, severe or pervasive harassment, and harassment that is offensive to a reasonable person. A coworker could write a joke on the board that others find offensive, this would be an example of creating a hostile work environment.
Harasser must have malicious intentions
Often, we see the harasser trying to get the victim fired for not complying with their sexual harassment. This isn’t always the case. The person may not want to intentionally cause harm to the other. They could see their behavior as innocent. An example of this would be if a supervisor asked an employee on a date. Even though they may not have had malicious intent, it can still be grounds for a sexual harassment claim.
If someone performs conduct that is in any way unwelcome to the victim, then the victim may have grounds for sexual harassment. This holds even if the victim agrees with the conduct. Using our previous scenario, if the victim accepts the offer of a date, it can still be considered sexual harassment. The victim may have accepted the offer because of the fear of getting fired. However, the victim must challenge the unwelcome conduct to prove it was sexual harassment. They can’t fully agree with the conduct. They have to prove that it was unwelcome.
Offensive to a Reasonable Person
When sexual harassment is unwelcome and offensive it is called the “subject standard”. Sexual harassment must be objectively offensive. This means it would reasonably offend someone in the victim’s shoes. It is taken in context. For example, if a coworker speaks about a protected characteristic that the other party otherwise wanted to keep private, then it is considered sexual harassment.
Being sexually harassed can be overwhelming and unfair. Someone took advantage over you. You may not have even been aware that they were taking advantage over you. It’s important to know that you have rights and you have rights worth fighting for. You deserve a say and you deserve to feel safe. When dealing with this subject matter, you want someone who is experienced. Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers has years of experience and will fight for your rights. Contact sexual harassment attorney for a free initial consultation at 310-527-6994 or fill out this contact form.