Jacksonville Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Sexual harassment can take many different forms in the workplace, and it can affect a wide variety of employees. Whether you have been the target of sexual harassment in the workplace or have been impacted by a hostile work environment resulting from sexual harassment, you may be able to file a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII expressly prohibitions discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Under Title VII, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is unlawful in the workplace. If you have been affected by sexual harassment at your place of employment, one of our Jacksonville sexual harassment lawyers can speak with you today.
What is Sexual Harassment Under Federal Law?
Under both state and federal law in Florida, it is unlawful to harass a person on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment can take many different forms, and it is important to understand the range of actions that can constitute unlawful sexual harassment. In general, there are two types of sexual harassment that occur in the workplace:
- Quid pro quo harassment: This is a type of sexual harassment in which an employee is offered benefits in exchange for sexual favors or in which an employee is led to believe face adverse action if she or he refuses to submit to sexual advances from an employer or supervisor.
- Hostile work environment: This is a type of sexual harassment in which an employee’s work environment has become hostile or offensive because of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace.
In order for sexual harassment to create a hostile work environment, the harassing behavior normally must happen beyond a single, isolated event. However, there are some situations in which a single event is so egregious that it does rise to the level of creating a hostile or offensive work environment that is unlawful under federal law.
When Sexual Harassment Can Occur in Employment
Sexual harassment may be harassment of a sexual nature, but it can also include harassing behavior pertaining to a person’s sex. Sexual harassment can occur at any of the following points:
- Demoting; or
In addition to prohibiting sexual harassment, Title VII also protects employees against retaliation for filing a sexual harassment claim. The harasser can be an employer, a co-worker, or any third party who may enter your place of employment. The party who files a sexual harassment claim can be the party targeted by the harassment, or another employee affected by the hostile work environment that has been created.
Title VII Coverage
Title VII covers employers with 15 or more employees. Jacksonville employees who have faced sexual harassment but may not be able to file a Title VII claim because they work for a small employer should speak with an attorney about options under state law.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in Jacksonville Workplaces
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when someone indicates that a person’s position at their job depends on their willingness to engage in some form of romantic or sexual interactions with an employer or supervisor. One example of this type of sexual harassment would be if a person’s boss offered to promote a worker if they went on a date with, slept with, or kissed them. The law recognizes that no employer should be able to extort sexual acts in return for favorable treatment in the workplace.
Sometimes these offers are more subtle, but the employee understands that their job depends on their willingness to comply with the other person’s advances. It is important to note that just because a boss asks someone on a date does not mean that the conduct was harassment. It is essential that you speak with an attorney concerning your case to learn more about your rights and whether you have a claim.
Hostile Work Environment Claims in Jacksonville, Florida
While quid pro quo claims often have to do with a boss or person in a position of power, hostile workplace claims need not involve a superior. In fact, supervisors can suffer harassment from employees whom they are supervising or from co-workers. Hostile work environment harassment can include jokes that make a worker feel uncomfortable, showing sexual images to a person, or frequent unwelcomed sexual advances.
Employees can also hold an employer liable for harassment when it comes from customers or clients. In these cases, if employers know the harassment is taking place, they have to take steps to prevent that conduct. Failing to prevent such harassment can lead to liability.
Most of the time, these cases are not based on one inappropriate joke but rather occur because of a pattern of behavior that continues to make a person uncomfortable at work. An attorney can help a victim of sexual harassment understand whether they have a claim against their employer.
Keep in mind that while people often believe that sexual harassment is something a man does to a woman, a person of any sex or gender can harass another person of any sex or gender. Sexual harassment laws protect men and women.
Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment
Employees are often fearful of facing the consequences of reporting sexual harassment at work. After all, the complaints might involve accusations against the person or people who pay that person’s salary. Victims worry that reporting the misconduct could lead to the loss of their job and livelihood. The law recognizes that employees have these fears and protects them against retaliation at the hands of an employer. It is a good idea for workers to keep detailed records of the events that occur so that their attorneys can review the facts and help them build their case.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim
Speaking to an attorney is a smart first step because every case is different, and an employee might not even know whether they have a valid claim. Sometimes, the employer has an internal process for reporting claims. It is a good idea for harassment victims to review any company policies and consider notifying the human resources department.
If the victim chooses to file a claim based on federal laws, they will first file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Claims based on Florida law require that the employee file with the Florida Commission on Human Rights. The agency will review the claim and might pursue action against the employer or attempt to reach a settlement.
If the EEOC or the FCHR does not want to pursue your claim, they will likely issue a “right to sue” letter. Anyone wishing to pursue a claim in state or federal court must first obtain one of these letters. The process can be technical and complicated, so it is a good idea for anyone looking to file a sexual harassment claim to find an experienced Jacksonville, Florida employment lawyer.
Hiring an Experienced Attorney for a Jacksonville Sexual Harassment Claim
Sexual harassment comes in various forms, some of which might be overt while others are more subtle. For the victims of this harassment, work can become a hostile environment. In some cases, the person might find that the wrongful conduct hampers their ability to continue to work in a company, or to move up at the business. Employees struggling to overcome sexual harassment need to know their rights and how to protect themselves.
At the Law Offices of Carol M. Galloway, our Jacksonville sexual harassment lawyers are ready to advocate and fight for your rights. If you are a victim of workplace harassment, call us today at 904-694-5489 for a free, initial consultation with an experienced sexual harassment attorney.