Determining whether sexual harassment has occurred in the workplace depends on several factors. Generally speaking, any kind of sexually suggestive comments or actions are considered harassment if they are unwanted and uninvited. If you are uncertain about whether your situation is harassment, a sexual harassment lawyer can review your case and help you determine if you are a victim.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 92 seconds another American becomes a victim of sexual assault. It is estimated that 321,500 people are sexually assaulted every year in the United States, and the number is likely higher since many people do not report sexual assault out of fear or shame. If you are one of these victims, you may find yourself in need of support. There are many national resources for sexual assault survivors that can help you make sense of your world again following sexual assault.
If you feel that you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, it’s important that you know your rights. Every worker should be protected against sexual harassment, and it is the responsibility of the employer to provide a healthy, safe work environment for everyone. There are several requirements that are placed on employers to ensure that every workplace is kept free of sexual harassment, and policies that must be in place to deal with any incidents.
No one should be harassed in the workplace, but there are situations where people feel harassed whether it is sexually, racially, gender based, or physical harassment. There are legal protections in place to help employees escape harassing activities. If you are the victim of pervasive harassment it may be time to take legal action to restore your safety at your workplace.
Our compassionate but firm legal team is here to help you with your sexual harassment case. These highly emotional situations can have a long-term effect on your career and your life. Our team is ready to listen to your story and offer you experienced legal guidance to try to bring closure to your situation.
Understanding Sexual Harassment
In our years of experience, one of the most common elements of any sexual harassment situation is that the victim may not realize that they are protected by state and federal laws. Some people think that a certain type of level of sexual harassment in the workplace should just be tolerated and that there is no way to utilize the law to make the situation right.
The truth is that there are many subcategories to sexual harassment, and they are all considered legal violations of human rights and New York State Law. In Buffalo, victims of sexual harassment need to understand that being abused in the workplace is not acceptable. It is not part of a normal working environment, and it is not something that anyone needs to put up with or tolerate.
Working In Buffalo
When you take on a job in the Buffalo area, your hope to enhance your career and take advantage of opportunities. If you encounter sexual harassment at your new job, it may not take long for all of your plans to start going off course. If the people you need to impress would rather make unwanted sexual advances at you than consider the quality of your work, then that can create a helpless feeling and vulnerability.
Your job and your career are important to you. If you work in the Buffalo area, you need to know that our team is ready to fight for your rights and put an end to sexual harassment. When you start losing control of your career at work, then it affects your personal life. Trying to work in an environment stained with sexual harassment can be awful. You need to know your rights and choose a strong and experienced attorney to help you get justice.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment comes in many forms and is difficult to define in just one sentence. In general, sexual harassment occurs when a person in the workplace is made to feel threatened or compromised in some way due to sexually charged language or verbal or physical assaults utilizing sexual overtones. One of the easier ways to define sexual harassment is to list the many of its subcategories. They include:
- Sexual intimidation
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Quid Pro Quo (You do for me and I will do for you)
- Creating a hostile work environment (inappropriate humor, unwanted touching, targeted sexual innuendos, etc.)
- There are many other instances that can be also classified as sexual harassment.
As a general rule, if a co-worker or supervisor does something with a sexual connotation that is intended to make you feel uncomfortable, then that is sexual harassment. For some people, it is a power play where they use their position to try and dictate the quality of your life. For others, there is an inability to respect co-workers and help them be part of a truly productive workplace.
Examples Of Sexual Harassment
When you recognize sexual harassment, you need to report it to your supervisor immediately. If you are the victim of sexual harassment, then sometimes it can be difficult to separate yourself from the situation and see that something needs to be done. To help identify sexual harassment in the workplace, we offer some examples.
- A supervisor offers to approve an employee’s raise request in exchange for sexual favors.
- A co-worker constantly sends sexually charged jokes through company email.
- A worker is ridiculed for their sexual orientation or gender choice.
- A co-worker constantly tries to brush up against another employee or makes unwanted sexual advances.
- A supervisor tricks a subordinate into believing that giving sexual favors is part of the promotion process.
As you can see, some instances of sexual harassment can be quite subtle. Sometimes those subtle instances will grow into more serious problems if they are not dealt with quickly and appropriately.
When Does Sexual Harassment Occur?
The guidelines for officially identifying sexual harassment can vary depending on the type of harassment being committed. For example, in order to call a situation a quid pro quo form of harassment, the aggressor must be part of the management or executive team and they must be using their position to try and get sexual favors from a subordinate.
Generally, the conduct must be obviously sexually aggressive in some way. It must be perpetrated in the workplace, and the victim has to feel threatened by the conduct. This can apply to conduct where an aggressor is attacking a victim one-on-one, or when an aggressor acts in a group context and winds up harassing one or more co-workers.
The Real Effects Of Allowing Sexual Harassment To Continue
Until recently, society has not done a great job at empowering the victims of sexual advances. The dominant sentiment in the corporate world is that these things happen and victims should just move on. But when you take a look at the real effects of sexual harassment, it becomes obvious that it is not something that should be ignored.
In The Workplace
Sexual harassment is intended to make the victim feel powerless in the presence of the aggressor. When this type of behavior is allowed to continue, there can be a transition that sees the victim giving up their chances at a bright corporate future to the whims of an aggressor. The deeper the conduct goes, the more the productivity and quality of the victim’s work suffers. In some cases, the chances for advancement are lost and the victim will have to spend years trying to rebuild their professional reputation. Often times, an aggressor will target several victims simultaneously in the workplace.
It is dangerous to think that your Buffalo home and personal time are not affected by the sexual harassment you receive at work. Over time, you may develop an inability to trust people and even long-standing relationships can start to suffer. Your confidence may start to erode, and you can develop a feeling that you no longer have control over many aspects of your life.
Sexual harassment can cause anxiety, which could trigger other medical problems. Some of the problems you could potentially experience resulting from sexual harassment include depression, anxiety attacks, heart issues, breathing problems, and eating and alcohol disorders. You could also start to lose contact with your friends and family, and the loss of your job could create significant financial problems.
What You Can Do
There are state and federal laws in place that you can use to protect yourself. Your company has policies on sexual harassment that you should use to file a complaint and get an investigation started. You should confide in friends and family members about your struggles and get that emotional foundation and even medical and psychological support you need to recover and to stand up and stop the harassment.
We also encourage you to give our team a call and find out your legal rights. Our team is made of compassionate sexual harassment attorneys who have experience in helping people just like you to get the justice and respect that you deserve. Contact our attorneys today by calling (716) 333-3300 to schedule a free consultation or fill out a free consultation form.