Sexual harassment is a huge issue in workplaces across the United States. Employees should feel comfortable while at work. When they are harassed by co-workers, supervisors, customers, or vendors, it creates a hostile work environment. A victim may no longer want to go to work. He or she may suffer from anxiety or depression or even feel physically ill at the thought of being in the office.
Employers have a responsibility to prevent such incidents. If they witness sexual harassment or receive complaints about it, they must take these allegations seriously. If they do not, they can face legal ramifications. They can be sued and forced to pay compensation to the victim.
Sexual Harassment Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, sexual harassment is defined as requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature, especially when these actions interfere with a person’s work performance or create a hostile work environment. The conduct must be unwelcome in order to be classified as sexual harassment.
Gender is not a factor when it comes to sexual harassment. Either the victim or the harasser can be male or female. They can be of the same or oppposite sex. The harasser can be anyone in the company, including a co-worker or supervisor. Sexual harassment in the workplace does not have to involve discharge, demotion or any other action that can lead to economic damages.
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Training employees about sexual harassment is a proactive way to prevent such actions in the workplace. Employees should be aware of what constitutes sexual harassment and what to do if they witness it. It may be wise to schedule presentations or mandate online classes. How do they go about filing a complaint? Who should they contact? There should be several ways to make a complaint, especially if a supervisor or other person in a leadership position is involved. It may be a good idea to post such information in a common area, such as a break room.
When someone files a complaint, it is important to follow up promptly. Such allegations should not simply be ignored. The person in charge should gather as much information as possible and conduct an investigation. The victim should be reassured that he or she is safe from retaliation. You should also gather important facts such as when the incidents took place, what happened, and who was involved. Interview the person accused as well as any witnesses.
Once you have all the information you need, you will need to make a decision as to whether or not sexual harassment took place. You should seek advice from an employment law attorney.
Contact a New York Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Sexual harassment is a serious issue that can affect anyone. As an employer, you have an obligation to protect employees from such harm and take action when someone makes a complaint.
Whether you are an employee or employer, the attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help you with your sexual harassment case. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (347) 727-0661.