Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, but it continues to be a persistent problem throughout all industries in the United States. When most people think of sexual harassment, they typically imagine an employer or supervisor abusing their position of authority over a subordinate employee. However, it is possible for sexual harassment to occur between employees of equivalent standing within the organization.
If you have experienced what you believe to be sexual harassment in the workplace from a coworker, you have the same right to legal recourse as you would if you had been harassed by a superior. In fact, your employer could be a valuable source of support and assistance if you have been harassed by another employee, and it is vital for you to know what to do to resolve your situation as effectively as possible.
How to Resolve Employee-to-Employee Sexual Harassment
Your first option for putting a stop to sexual harassment at work is to tell the harasser in no uncertain terms that their behavior is unwanted and unacceptable. Miscommunication can happen, and some people struggle with social cues, so it is possible for the harasser to legitimately be unaware that what they are doing is wrong. For example, an employee asking another employee out on a date would typically not count as sexual harassment. If they are rejected and persist in asking repeatedly, then the situation has crossed the line into harassment. Once you make it clear that their behavior is unwanted and inappropriate, if they continue, you must report the issue to your supervisor immediately.
Companies in the state are required to have internal policies regarding sexual harassment, and they are required to investigate all reports of sexual harassment. If the harasser has continued to make your work environment hostile with their behavior, your employer is the first level of escalation. Ideally, the employer will take appropriate steps to resolve the issue, potentially including firing the harasser or issuing other disciplinary action. If the employer does not put a stop to the problem or refuses to address the issue, you can then submit a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC is a federal agency tasked with enforcement of the country’s workplace discrimination and harassment laws. If anyone experiences any type of discrimination or harassment at work, they can submit a complaint to the EEOC to have them investigate the issue. If the EEOC investigates your claim and determines that you did experience sexual harassment and your employer did not take appropriate steps to resolve the problem, this can lead to legal penalties for both the harasser and your employer.
Ultimately, any incident of employee-to-employee sexual harassment is unacceptable, and employers are required to address any such reports immediately. Diefer Law Group routinely helps victims of workplace sexual harassment, and we can provide comprehensive legal counsel if you intend to pursue legal recourse in response to the sexual harassment you suffered in your workplace.
Q: Should You Report if Another Employee Is Being Sexually Harassed at Work?
A: If you witness another employee being subjected to sexual harassment at work, you should notify your employer immediately. You can also tell the harasser to stop what they are doing, but it will ultimately be up to the victim to decide whether they wish to pursue legal recourse against the harasser. Your employer is legally required to investigate all incidents of alleged sexual harassment in your workplace.
Q: What Are the Consequences of Sexually Harassing a Coworker?
A: Penalties for employee-to-employee sexual harassment can be severe. The harasser could be held liable for any damages sustained by the victim; they are also likely to lose their job. If they are not fired, they may be demoted, transferred to a new workplace, or compelled to complete specific types of training to maintain their employment. In most cases, the harasser is fired and faces liability for the victim’s damages.
Q: What Three Factors Determine Workplace Sexual Harassment?
A: If the behavior was unwanted, the victim tolerated harassment to keep their job, and the harassment was severe enough to create a hostile work environment for the victim, these can form the foundation of a sexual harassment claim. A victim of workplace sexual harassment should explore internal conflict resolution options in their workplace before escalating to formal legal action, but if your employer does not offer a satisfactory response to your report, you should prepare to take more definitive legal action.
Q: Can I Claim Compensation for Employee-to-Employee Sexual Harassment?
A: Yes, you have the right to claim compensation for any direct financial losses you may have suffered as a result of the sexual harassment committed against you. You will also have the right to pursue compensation for the emotional distress you experienced, and the defendant may face punitive damages to reflect the severity of their actions. Hiring an attorney to help with your claim is the most effective way to maximize any compensation you receive for employee-to-employee sexual harassment in a workplace.
Q: Should I Hire an Attorney for Employee to Employee Sexual Harassment?
A: It is technically possible to pursue a sexual harassment claim without hiring an attorney, but legal counsel you can trust can make every phase of the case much easier for you to handle and more likely to generate the results you hope to see. Your attorney can assist you with gathering evidence to support your claim, help file a complaint with the EEOC, and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for your experience.
Diefer Law Group is a leading choice for employment counsel in the state due to the many years of experience we have in handling all types of workplace harassment claims. Whether you have experienced sexual harassment at work from your employer or a coworker, we can help resolve the situation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our team and find out how we can assist you in your legal affairs.