Sexual Harassment can be a sensitive subject, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is a serious offense that can completely derail someone’s life. It is important to maintain a full understanding of what qualifies as Sexual Harassment, as it is defined by Ohio State Laws.
Any unwanted attention of a sexual nature, whether verbal (suggestive comments/requests for sexual favors) or physical (touching, unwelcome gestures, inappropriate staring), that creates an uncomfortable environment in the workplace is unlawful. It is also important to remember that, while “quid pro quo” harassment cases (when an employer or supervisor makes a lower-level employee feel as though their employment/safe work environment is at risk if sexual advances/demands are rejected) tend to receive more media attention, most legal claims are made up of cases regarding “hostile work environment.” These types of claims can involve explicit language, sexual banter and teasing, and/or inappropriate photos.
With that definition of sexual harassment in mind, here are two myths about sexual harassment that are commonly believed:
1. Sexual Harassment complaints can only be filed by a woman against a man.
Women make up the majority of victims of sexual harassment, however, they are not the only people allowed to file a claim of sexual harassment, nor are they exempt from being accused of sexual harassment. It is important to keep in mind that harassers do not have to be members of the opposite sex. You must also remember that while harassment/abuse can happen between fellow employees, it can also come from supervisors, clients, and/or customers.
Sexual Harassment is not limited by gender or sexuality. It is not always men who are the harasser and women who are harassed. The important thing to remember is if you have been made to feel uncomfortable and it relates in any way to your gender, sex, sexual identity, or orientation, the best thing to do is reach out to an attorney who can advise you about the situation.
2. Sexual harassment requires physical contact.
Sexual harassment can occur verbally or even digitally. It does not require physical contact between two people. This is important to remember if you have received a text, IM, email, or other electronic message that makes you feel uncomfortable your first impulse may be to hit delete. It is important to preserve these inappropriate communications, even though they are troublesome to read and/or view. If you are being harassed verbally, you can make a note in your phone, send an email or text to yourself, or write a note about the encounter. When you feel comfortable doing so, reach out to an attorney and allow him or her to give you advice about what to do if you have received messages or been harassed in any way…
While digital correspondence can be used in a sexual harassment investigation, it is also important to remember that you are NOT required to have tangible proof. Your truthful testimony about the harassment is often enough to pursue a claim. Ignoring sexual harassment will make it stop.
Ignoring sexual harassment is not the most effective method of bringing an end to the harassment, and it can also make the workplace even more unsafe by setting a precedent that abuse and harassment are tolerated in the workplace. Reporting the details of any incident may be uncomfortable, but it is the best way to end the abuse and return to working in a safe and healthy environment. It is important to note that it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you because you reported Sexual Harassment. If you are afraid of retaliation, you can contact an attorney who can help you navigate the situation. – If the company you work for fails to take action after you’ve reported sexual harassment to them, you can file a formal complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If you find yourself needing to file a formal complaint, or if you are looking for legal help because of a Workplace Sexual Harassment incident, Contact Mastandrea Law today for a free consultation.