Some recent social developments, such as the #MeToo movement and the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, have made jurors more sensitive to sexual harassment claims. For example, instead of a random chain of events, people are more likely to see a pattern of harassment.

According to federal law, sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” This harassment need not be explicitly sexual. Comments about one’s appearance or gender could be considered sexual harassment. Furthermore, the harasser need not be an employee or supervisor. The employer is also responsible for customer sexual harassment, in many cases.

Sexual harassment claimants are entitled to both compensation and dignity. A Greenville sexual harassment lawyer works very hard to obtain both these things, in both the following situations.

 

Hostile Environment

James Bond novelist Ian Fleming once wrote that “once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and thrice is enemy action.” That’s the essence of a hostile environment claim.

Individual rude remarks and off-color jokes may not constitute a hostile environment. But these things quickly add up. Essentially, the environment is hostile if the victim cannot perform his/her essential job functions. The same thing applies if the victim feels compelled to avoid certain areas of the workplace.

The victim’s sensitivity must be objectively reasonable. The environment must be so hostile that most people would be unable to function in it.

Ultimately, many hostile environments end in constructive termination claims. Things get so bad that the victim is compelled to quit. Additional financial compensation is usually available in these situations.

 

Quid Pro Quo

Tying any outcome to any request for a sexual favor is illegal. Bosses cannot give preferred workstations or offices to employees who appear more feminine than others. Furthermore, the quid pro quo need not be explicit. The “let’s talk about this over lunch” line is a good example. Even though the harasser did not promise action, that promise is strongly implied.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment matters often involve retaliation claims. Frequently, people who engage in protected sexual harassment activity face adverse action at work. This activity includes:

  • Formally reporting sexual harassment,
  • Encouraging someone else to file a complaint,
  • Informally reporting sexual harassment, and
  • Serving as a witness in a sexual harassment inquiry.

Retaliation claims are usually quite straightforward. Typically, the plaintiff only needs to establish a temporal relationship (e.g. a report on Monday and a demotion on Wednesday). Largely for this reason, retaliation claims make up the bulk of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission job bias complaints.

Employees have the right to a harassment-free workplace. For a confidential consultation with an experienced employment law attorney in Greenville, contact the Briggs Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in sexual harassment matters.

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