Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it clear that sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and illegal, and it is an employer’s responsibility tomake sure employees know that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Employers should provide meaningful training aimed at identifying and preventing harassing behavior, and inform employees of their rights. An employer who fails to guard against sexual harassment and does not take complaints about harassment seriously could end up paying thousands or even millions of dollars to employees who are victims of harassing behavior.
If you work long hours, you might see more of your co-workers than you do your family. Maybe you’ll even start calling a co-worker your “work-wife” or “work-husband.” The fact is, after spending so many hours in the workplace together, co-workers can get a bit too comfortable and lose sight of how inappropriate their behavior really is.
In a recent case, a jury awarded former UBS employee Carla Ingraham $10.6 million dollars after her boss took the whole “work wife” thing a bit too far. According to the lawsuit, Ingraham and her boss worked closely together for a number of years. Eventually, he began referring to her as his “work wife.” The nickname seemed harmless enough until he started telling her about his sex life with his actual wife, and how it wasn’t what it used to be. He also allegedly asked Ingraham about her sexual fantasies, made comments about his penis size, and invited Ingraham to vacation with him at a client’s lake house. Just to be clear, this is a no-no.
When Ingraham finally complained, she claimed the company retaliated against her by cutting her pay, accusing her of drinking on the job, and refusing to let her bring her camera in to work even though there was no company policy against it. This is exactly the WRONG reaction for a company to have. It should be obvious that any allegation of sexual harassment must be taken seriously, not only to prevent ugly lawsuits, but also to comply with the law. Sadly, according to Ingraham, UBS created a hostile work environment for over a year after she complained before finally firing her.
With its hefty verdict, the Ingraham lawsuit goes to show that working long hours with someone on a regular basis does not mean giving up your right to a professional work atmosphere. If you think your right to a safe, harassment-free workplace has been violated, call the right attorney with the knowledge to get results.
I would also add that Ingraham was in her 50s. So that this also shows that sexual harassment is not only a younger woman’s problem. Sexual harassment is the problem that all women face.
If you feel that you are being sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working environment, you should not wait to call the right attorney at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, you will meet with a sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work environment attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them. Sexual harrassment is a former of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment.
The materials available at this gender discrimination and employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It is best contact an Ohio sexual harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer to obtain advice with respect to sexual harassment/hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm or any individual attorney.