Houston Sexual Harassment Lawyer
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, over 7,000 cases of sexual harassment were filed within the workplace in 2013. Sexual harassment in the workplace creates a difficult environment for workers, decreases productivity, and increases a host of problems.
Sexual harassment can include a wide range of physical and verbal actions, such as:
- Unwelcome touching
- Repeated and intentional violation of personal space
- Comments about a person’s sexual appeal
- Sharing intimate details about sexual activities
- Consistently making unwanted advances
- Making offensive remarks about a certain gender
- Making offensive comments regarding anatomy
When actions of this type create a hostile atmosphere or uncomfortable work environment and negatively affect a worker’s performance, this is considered harassment. In addition, if negative employment decisions are made as a result of the conduct, that is also considered harassment. Examples include a woman receiving constant unwanted advances from a coworker and being demoted because the situation is making others uncomfortable, or sought after assignments being withheld unless advances are welcomed.
Both men and women can instigate sexual harassment, with 17.6% of sexual harassment reports in 2013 filed by men. A harasser can be a supervisor, co-worker, or even a customer. A position of power within the workplace is not an excuse to get away with sexual harassment, and businesses should have protocols in place for workers to report harassment on the part of their direct supervisor without risking retaliation.
While the line between joking and harassment is sometimes cited as unclear, oftentimes there is no confusion as to what is happening. Employers should provide frequent training sessions and seminars to help employees understand what is considered harassment and what to do if they feel that they are being harassed. Employers must also have a system of reporting complaints that allows for anonymity.
In addition, whistleblower protection laws ensure that an employee cannot be disciplined for reporting their own harassment or that of a coworker. Those who are terminated, demoted, or otherwise receive negative actions for reporting sexual harassment may have legal recourse to seek compensation and should contact the Powers Law Firm for a free consultation.