Am I Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

9 mins read

Despite increased awareness and efforts to prevent it, sexual harassment remains a persistent issue in many workplaces. Employees who experience unwanted sexual conduct often feel embarrassed, intimidated, or unsure of how to respond. However, it’s crucial to recognize that sexual harassment is illegal and unacceptable under Florida law.

The Florida Administrative Code defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” that meets specific criteria. Florida law prohibits two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

This type of harassment involves a supervisor or someone in a position of authority offering job benefits (like a promotion or raise) in exchange for sexual favors. It can also involve threats of demotion, termination, or other negative consequences for refusing such advances.

For example, if your boss propositions you for a date and implies that accepting could lead to a promotion, that’s quid pro quo sexual harassment. Or if a supervisor denies you a deserved raise after you turn down their advances, that’s also a form of this type of harassment.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment occurs when an employee is subjected to severe or pervasive unwelcome conduct based on their sex or gender. This can include offensive jokes, slurs, physical gestures, or the display of explicit material that creates an intimidating or abusive work atmosphere.

It’s important to note that the harassment must be both subjectively and objectively offensive. In other words, not only must the victim perceive the behavior as hostile, but a reasonable person in the same circumstances would also find it unacceptable.

Some examples of conduct that could contribute to a hostile work environment include:

  • Frequent sexual jokes, comments about someone’s body, or graphic descriptions
  • Unwanted touching, hugging, or brushing up against someone
  • Displaying pornographic or sexually explicit images
  • Repeatedly asking a coworker for dates after they’ve declined

The key is that the behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive work environment for the victim.

Signs You May Be Experiencing Sexual Harassment

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize when behavior crosses the line into sexual harassment territory. Here are some potential red flags:

  • Your harasser makes you feel threatened or afraid to come to work. If you dread seeing or interacting with a particular coworker or supervisor because of their behavior, that’s a major warning sign.
  • The harassment is interfering with your ability to do your job effectively. Sexual jokes, comments, or gestures that distract you or make it difficult to concentrate could constitute a hostile work environment.
  • The conduct is physical and unwanted. Any unwelcome touching, hugging, or invasion of personal space is inappropriate and potentially illegal.
  • The harasser won’t stop, even after you’ve asked them to. If you’ve made it clear the behavior makes you uncomfortable, but it continues, that’s harassment.
  • You’re being treated differently for rejecting sexual advances. If opportunities, raises, or other benefits are being withheld because you declined sexual propositions, that’s quid pro quo harassment.

If you recognize these signs in your own workplace experiences, it’s time to take action. No one should have to endure sexual harassment to keep their job.

Steps to Take if You’re Being Sexually Harassed

The first step is to report the harassment, following your company’s official complaint procedures outlined in the employee handbook. Make sure to document every incident, including dates, times, locations, and details about what was said or done.

Be sure to send copies of this complaint to HR as well as any other decision-makers at your workplace.

You also have the option to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, you only have 300 calendar days from the date of the harassment to submit this charge – so don’t delay.

Reporting sexual harassment is considered a legally protected activity, which means your employer cannot retaliate against you for making a complaint. If they do take adverse action like demoting or firing you, that would open them up to a retaliation claim.

Your Employer’s Responsibility

Once you report harassment, your employer is legally obligated to conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into your claims. They must then take appropriate corrective action to stop the harassing behavior.

This corrective action could include disciplining or terminating the harasser, providing additional sexual harassment training, or adjusting workplace policies and procedures. No matter what, the harassment must be stopped and measures taken to prevent it from reoccurring.

If your employer fails to adequately address the situation, or if you face retaliation for reporting harassment, you may have grounds to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company.

When to Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney in Miami

Dealing with workplace sexual harassment can be confusing, intimidating, and emotionally draining. That’s why it’s often in your best interest to consult an experienced sexual harassment lawyer.

An attorney can review the details of your situation, ensure your rights are protected, and build a strong case against your employer if they fail to take appropriate action. They can also advise you on potential compensation you may be entitled to, including:

  • Back pay for lost wages or benefits
  • Compensatory damages for emotional distress
  • Punitive damages if the harassment was especially malicious
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs

At the BT Law Group, we have over 30 years of combined experience handling sexual harassment and employment law cases. Our attorneys fight aggressively to ensure victims of workplace harassment receive the justice and compensation they deserve.

Don’t wait to take action against sexual harassment. The sooner you report it and involve legal counsel, the better your chances of bringing the inappropriate behavior to a halt and holding your employer accountable.

Take a Stand Against Sexual Harassment

No one should have to endure a hostile work environment or make career sacrifices to avoid sexual harassment. Both federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) and Florida state law prohibit this form of gender discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of quid pro quo harassment, a hostile work environment, or any other form of workplace sexual misconduct, it’s crucial to speak up. Report the harassment through official channels, document everything, and consider consulting a sexual harassment attorney in Maimi to protect your rights.

Don’t remain silent and allow the harassment to continue. With the support of experienced legal professionals like those at the BT Law Group, you can take a stand, make it clear the behavior is unacceptable, and work towards a resolution that allows you to feel safe and respected in your place of employment.

Take the first step today and call to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our compassionate sexual harassment attorneys.

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