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Identifying Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Employment Law / August 10, 2021

Harassing an employee because of that individual’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation (often called “sexual harassment”) is illegal under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. To help you better identify sexual harassment, this article will go through some of the most common types. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors made by a supervisor or co-worker, as well as verbal abuse such as teasing, jokes with sexual content, insults about a person’s body, spreading rumors about someone’s sex life, and other inappropriate comments related to gender. 

Sexual harassment can lead to a hostile work environment where an employer is unable or unwilling to take action. This could result in the employee being fired, demoted, or forced out of their current position. In such cases, it’s crucial for victims of sexual harassment to file complaints with their employers as soon as possible so that corrective actions are taken if necessary. It is unacceptable for any company not to address sexual harassment between employees immediately. However, some companies ignore these issues, making them complicit. If you’re facing sexual harassment contact a Kansas City employment attorney at the Hollis Law Firm can help you understand your legal options.

Understanding When Sexual Harassment Occurs

Inappropriate physical contact, like touching another employee without their permission would be considered non-consensual physical conduct. Hugging them when they don’t want you to hug them falls into this category too.

There is no bright-line test for identifying sexual harassment in the workplace. The first step to avoiding a problem with employers over allegations of sexual or other forms of harassment is awareness, both from an employees’ standpoint and from management’s perspective.

Employees need to know what types of behavior can be considered harassing. Hence, they can recognize it when it happens, while supervisors must understand how others may view their actions through a lens that includes potential lawsuits against them if something goes wrong.

Other Actions that Fall Under Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves an individual in a position of power, such as the owner or manager of a business, demanding from a subordinate some form of sexual favor to be performed by that person if they want something good to happen for them at work.

A hostile working environment is created when unwelcome conduct becomes so unbearable and pervasive it creates conditions where employees cannot do their jobs.

In both cases, the employee can sue regardless of whether someone was fired due to the alleged harassment. There are laws against retaliation after making complaints about these kinds of behavior have been made public. 

Sexual Harassment is a Serious Allegation

Employers need to ensure that they foster a workplace atmosphere where employees feel comfortable reporting anything inappropriate and do not fear repercussions for doing so, instead of one in which people can easily get away with harassment while avoiding the consequences from management.

The best defense against claims such as these is having solid anti-harassment policies in place and enforcing them if problems arise rather than ignoring what happens or trying to sweep it under the rug. Allowing managers to have too much discretion when handing out punishments after complaints are made opens companies up to potential lawsuits down the road if something goes wrong. 

Kansas City Sexual Harassment Lawyers You Can Count On

If you have filed a complaint with HR or your supervisor, your next steps should be to seek experienced legal counsel from a Kansas City sexual harassment attorney. Your attorney can help you document incidents of harassment and preserve a record to support your claim. 

The Hollis Law Firm is committed to helping those affected by sexual harassment in the workplace and looks forward to helping you pursue justice. Call us today at (913) 385-5400 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.