Best Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Answer: What is sexual harassment? What can I do if I think I’m being sexually harassed? Does my boss need to touch me in order to sue for sexual harassment? Is it sexual harassment if my manager makes crude and lewd statements to me?
Most of us just want to be treated fairly at work. We want our boss or manager to treat us right; and if they don’t, we want HR or management to fix the problem. That is the way it is supposed to work. This is especially true when it comes to the issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. It is clearly wrong, and all that we want is for HR or management to say that is wrong and fix the problem. Sounds simple and straight forward, right? Unfortunately, too many employees, both women and men, come to our employment law lawyers with the same sorry story, “I’ve been sexually harassed at work but the company is siding with my supervisor. What can I do?”
The employment discrimination attorneys at the Spitz Law Firm have previously blogged about the many forms of sexual harassment and what types of behavior may constitute sexual harassment. (See Can I Sue My Job For Sexual Harassment By Customers Or Coworkers?; Can I Sue My Employer For Sexual Harassment?; Can I Sue My Same Gender Boss For Sexual Harassment?; What Should I Do If I Was Fired For Reporting Sexual Harassment?; What Can I Do If My Manager Is Sexually Harassing Me? ).
Generally speaking there are two broad terms of sexual harassment, quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Both quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment are types of gender discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) hostile work environment sexual harassment can include requests for sexual favors or unwelcome sexual advances. (See Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Doing This First; File With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? Call The Right Attorney; Should I Get A Lawyer To Help Me File An EEOC Charge?; and Should I File With The EEOC On My Own? Call The Right Attorney). Hostile work environment can include any verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of the conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual.
In reading the sexual harassment definitions, you may note the complete lack of a physical contact requirement, let alone sexual physical contact as a requirement in a finding of sexual harassment. Based upon how sexual harassment is defined, a recent case in Houston, Texas is not very surprising in its result but a real shock in how the defense attempted to circumvent the law and undermine the protections of Title VII when it comes to sex harassment.
In Spanko v. St. Hope Foundation, Audrey Spanko testified that her manager Jose Reyna engaged in a continuous pattern of sexual harassment. His offensive conduct, which continued over an extended period of time, included grabbing her from behind, attempting to kiss her on the mouth, nibbling on her ear against her will, and sexually explicit comments. Spanko repeatedly reported this behavior to human resources and her supervisors. Finally, in a terrifying turn for the worse Spanko’s manager barricaded her in a room, blocked her from leaving, and grabbed her. Fortunately, Spanko had the opportunity to express her lack of interest with a well placed knee to the groin and escape.
So just for a moment, and just based upon the allegations brought by Spanko, let’s check against the defining characteristics of the definition of sexual harassment. Unwanted verbal communication of a sexual nature? Check. Unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature? Check. Requests for sexual favors? Check. Unwelcome sexual advances? Check. I’m not sure how any reasonable person could argue that this type of unwanted behavior could not create an offensive environment. For the sexual harassment lawyers here at The Spitz Law Firm, this case already seemed like a lock. Then the facts got even worse.
It turns out that Spanko wasn’t the only one reporting this supervisor for reprehensible sexual conduct. As evidence in the case developed it was discovered that the patients at St. Hope Foundation had been reporting this creep as well. This upstanding citizen had been telling patients that due to his position he could influence whether or not they received services from the foundation. If they did not allow themselves to be subjected to his unwanted sexual advances or provide him with nude pictures he would threaten to have them rejected for services.
Before the harrassment against Spanko culminated in being barricaded in a room and assaulted, she had reported all of the behavior that she had experienced. After her boss barricaded her in a room, grabbed her, and threatened her, she reported his conduct to his supervisor and to St. Hope Foundation’s human resource department. After reviewing the complaints of Spanko the St. Hope Foundation Board punished Spanko through disciplinary action because she struck her assailant in the groin. Wow! That might be even more despicable than the actual sex harassment.
The St. Hope Foundation President testified at trial that even though they had found that Spanko’s complaints were credible, and even though they had determined that her supervisor had made inappropriate advances, had grabbed at her, had bit her ear, had attempted to kiss her on the mouth, and had barricaded her in a room that it was not a violation of the St. Hope Foundation’s sexual harassment policy. It was the board president’s testimony that because Spanko had not been raped, did not have any bruises, and her skin had not been broken, no response was necessary. More shocking still, local reports quoted the defense attorney as defending this behavior by telling the jury repeatedly that “it’s not like she was raped.” Again, just wow.
Justice in the face of this absurd behavior and even more absurd defense was quick and righteous. It took the jury less than two hours to return a verdict in favor of Spanko in excess of $500,000.00.
Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. 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 (216) 291-4744 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At The Spitz 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 form of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
The materials available at the top of this page and at this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex harassment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do …”, “I’m being sexually harassed …” “my supervisor grabbed my…”, “my boss is touching…,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” or “how do I …”, your best course is to 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 the top of this page or through this employment law website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.