Best Employment Discrimination Attorney Reply: Is it still sexual harassment if it’s on Valentine’s Day? What can I do if my boss won’t stop touching me? I reported that my manager is sexually harassing me, and he still won’t stop; What can I do to stop sex harassment at work? Can I sue if I was wrongfully fired for reporting sexual harassment at work?
I don’t know what it is about Valentine’s Day —a holiday created by Hallmark, but it sure does stir up a lot of emotions. For some, love is in the air. For others, a full tub of ice cream, on the couch is more appealing. I remember when I was a child, I would get so excited for Valentine’s Day. My classmates and I would put in so much time and effort to make the perfect Valentine’s Day box and spend way too much time creating the perfect cards for all our classmates and friends. Not to mention all the candy!
In middle school, Valentine’s Day meant a day full of awkward interactions. Many of us got those “butterflies” when we saw our crush. It was an exciting day, hoping to get a quick smile of acknowledgement but still somehow look cool in front of your friends. I, for one, was always kind of nerdy in High School, so for me, these interactions only improved slightly. But, even through all the awkwardness, Valentine’s Day was still enjoyable.
But as an adult, Valentine’s Day takes on a new significance. It can be a day to celebrate love, or a day avoiding potentially awkward interactions and situations. People, co-workers included, are more likely to share intimate emotions with others on Valentine’s Day. Whether those feelings be wanted or not, it happens every year—a boss crosses a line, or a coworker makes an unwanted advance. But, holidays like Valentine’s Day do not give bosses, managers, supervisors, coworkers, or even the owner of the company the right to step around sexual harassment laws. (See Employment Lawyer: Halloween parties Can Lead To Discrimination And Harassment Claims).
Our regular employment discrimination blog readers already know that sexual harassment in the workplace is a type of gender discrimination that violates both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code 4112. (See Who Can I Sue For Sexual Harassment? – Call The Right Attorney; and What Can I Do If My Boss Sexually Harasses Me?). As our attorneys have explained, these are the same laws that also protect employees from race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, and disability discrimination.
There are two categories of unlawful sexual harassment. Either quid pro quo sexual harassment or hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when (1) an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual harassment (think sexual advances or sexual favors); (2) the harassment is unwelcome; (3) submission to the harassment is a condition for receiving job benefits; (4) the harasser was a supervisor or agent of the employer; (5) the employee was harmed; and (6) the harassment caused the employee’s harm. (See Can My Boss Fire Me If I Refuse His Sexual Advances?; Can I Sue If My Boss Texted A Demand To Have Sex With Him?; and My Boss Forced Me To Have Sex!). Unfortunately, there are many examples. Our sex harassment attorneys often hear workers tell us things like, “My boss told me I need to give a blowjob to get a promotion,” or “My supervisor says that I have to fuck him, or he will fire me.” Sometimes the trade is sexual favors for better shifts, time off, or being put on better accounts.
Hostile work environment is a different situation. Hostile work environment occurs when an (1) employee is subjected to unwanted harassment; (2) the harassment is based on sex; and (3) the harassment was so severe that it altered the conditions of employment. (See Can I Sue My Same Sex Boss For Sexual Harassment?; Does My Boss Need To Stop My Sexually Harassing Coworker?; Can I Sue My Job For Sexual Harassment By Customers Or Coworkers?.
Unwanted sexual attention rises to the level of illegal harassment when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment. Both Ohio and federal law prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Importantly, sexually hostile work environments do not require sexual advances by a boss, manager or other superior. Unfortunately, again, there are many examples. Employees that face sexually hostile workplaces typically tell our employment lawyers things like, “my supervisor keeps sending me dick pics,” “my boss told me to send him nudes,” “guys in the office keep sharing and showing porn,” “my managers simulates masturbating in front of me,” “the owner of the business keeps rubbing up against me, groping me, and grabbing my butt,” “my boss keeps bragging about and describing sex that he is having,” and “my supervisor asks me about the type of sex that I have and how do I like to get it,” among other things.
The only thing worse than going to work when you’re being sexually harassed, is going to work on Valentine’s Day fearing that you’ll be sexually harassed. Something about Valentine’s Day emboldens people to express themselves and reveal their true feelings, no matter how sick, twisted or perverted those feelings may be.
Possibly, one of the most outrageous cases of sexual harassment I’ve recently read comes out of Utah. The complaint filed in Anderson v. Lone Peak Controls is a perfect example of a supervisor feeling emboldened and then sexually harassing his subordinates. Trudy Anderson worked for an electrical control company as an office manager. At first, Trudy and her manager Derek Wright got along, Derek gave Trudy good reviews. Almost the whole time that Trudy worked for the electrical control company, she was harassed. The harassment started out as the occasional jokes with sexual punch lines which then transformed into explicit and raunchy gestures. It started when Derek asked Trudy to date him. After Trudy repeatedly turned him down, Derek tried to seduce Trudy. Derek purchased a spray that was meant to arouse women and sprayed it around the room. Derek tried to get Trudy to drink alcohol in the office with him to loosen her up.
Moreover, and this is bad, Derek made a Monday through Friday schedule that included the following:
Monday: Mini-skirt Monday, no panties allowed
Tuesday: Tube-top Tuesday
Wednesday: Wet T-Shirt Wednesday
Thursday: No bra Thursday
Friday: Bikini top Friday
Derek distributed this list to the entire office. This list, in my opinion, should have been more than enough to support Derek’s termination. This behavior is completely unacceptable, and unfortunately, as our employment law lawyers can attest, companies keep toxic supervisors on staff, even after something as egregious as this occurs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Derek even went as far as watching pornography at the office. According to the sexual harassment complaint, Derek slapped Trudy on the behind and tried his best to degrade her in front of other employees. When Trudy reported this conduct multiple times to Derek’s supervisors, no real action was taken. The management at the electrical control company allowed these atrocities to happen to Trudy and did nothing to protect her.
Trudy’s manager Derek felt emboldened to behave this way at work. Upper management was aware of his heinous behavior but never intervened to correct it. The electrical control company had a duty to protect its employees from this type of harmful behavior, but instead, sat idly by and let Trudy suffer.
Trudy’s case settled quickly and quietly. Typically, when a case settles there used to commonly be agreements made between the plaintiff and the defendants where they both agree to not discuss the details of the settlement. Agreements like these make it impossible to know how much money Trudy received, however, it’s likely that she received a hefty amount. (See Can I Be Fired For Refusing To Have Sex With My Boss?; and Can I Sue If My Boss Texted Me That I Have To Have Sex With Him?).
Although this case involves some pretty egregious behavior from Utah, Ohio employees are protected. If you are an employee in Ohio and have experience behavior or conduct similar to what is contained in this blog then you may have a claim. Most Ohio employees are protected by Federal and State laws in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(A). These laws are in place to prevent employers from making critical employment related decisions based on gender, and/or protected activity of reporting sexual harassment.
The reality is, that if sexual harassment continues to happen and supervisors and managers out there still think they can get away with harassing subordinates, then everyone is still in danger of this type of behavior happening to them. Sallie Krawcheck, founder and CEO of a digital investment firm for women, has an interesting take on sexual harassment in the workplace. In an interview she was asked about an incident that she was personally involved in. She gave the following response when asked about co-workers who left behind Xeroxes of their penises on her desk:
“The first time it happened, I didn’t know what is was. I was like, ‘What is this strange, artistic, squishy-looking, distorted thing?’ When I got the message, I was upset. And I was humiliated. And I was embarrassed. And I felt shame. And I knew they didn’t want me there… This was weeks out of college. I had signed a full year lease, on a New York apartment, my parents couldn’t help pay my rent. I didn’t feel like I had a choice… I just didn’t even have a conception that you could stop something like that. Today, women have many more options, and they should take advantage of them.”
Sallie’s quote reminds me how far we’ve come as a society. However, there is still much progress to be made inside of the workplace. One of the best options that Sallie talks about is getting legal help from attorney who focus only on helping employees – like The Spitz Law Firm.
There’s a lot of power that can be gained when sexual harassment victims stand up for their rights. People already have enough to be stressed about—especially at work! Fear of harassment from managers or supervisors or retaliation for reporting sexual harassment should not be a concern at work. At The Spitz Law Firm, we believe that every person, deserves a safe, healthy working environment, free from harassment. There’s no amount of money that can completely heal the trauma, work place sexual harassment can cause, but in my experience, it’s a start. Whether it be Valentine’s Day or any other day, sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and illegal.
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 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 harassment 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 harassment. 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. Call our office at 866-797-6040.
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 if I’m being sexually harassed at work?”, “I have to fuck my boss to keep my job,” “my supervisor grabbed my ass”, “my boss is groping my breasts,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated for reporting sexual harassment to HR,” or “how do I find the best sex harassment lawyers”, 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.