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Sexual Harassment

“It is a sobering revelation that every woman—every woman—who has spent time in the workforce in the last two decades can tell at least one story about being the object of sexual harassment.” So said conservative Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski after being faced with yet another claim of sexual harassment in the workforce. According to a Cornell Law Review, up to 90 percent of women in the United States workforce have been the victims of some form of sexual harassment on the job. More than fifty percent of sexual harassment victims do not report it, let alone seek out the best sexual harassment attorneys that they can find to help them.

As experienced attorneys in this area of law, we know that the impact of sexual harassment is clear and indisputable. A recent Cleveland State Law Review Article entitled “The Present State of Sexual Harassment Law” reported that 90 to 95 percent of sexually harassed women suffer from some form of debilitating stress reaction, including anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep disorders, weight loss or gain, nausea, lowered self-esteem and sexual dysfunction. Sexual harassment victims suffer financial loss on top of the emotional trauma: a study of federal employees reported that each year sexual harassment victims lose 973,000 hours in unpaid leave, amounting to $4.4 million in wages. Again, these are only the amounts for federal employees and does not include women sexually harassed by bosses in the private sector.

Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio employment laws. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Sexual harassment at work can occur in a lot of different ways, but can generally be categorized as quid pro quo sexual harassment, sexually hostile work environment, and a combination of these two types.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning “this for that.” Within the context of sexual harassment claims, quid pro quo harassment occurs when your boss, supervisor, manager, or even the owner of the business offers to make a trade for sexual favors, including, for example, a raise for a blowjob; a promotion for sex; avoiding a demotion for a date; or providing more hours for emailing naked pictures. Want a shift change? That will cost a handjob. There does not necessarily need to be an overt request or express agreement. For example, if only the women that have engaged in sexual favors get raises, and the boss requests sexual favors, the quid pro quo agreement can be implied. If you are uncertain if you have been subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment, your best option is to ask a sexual harassment lawyer at Spitz, The Employee's Law Firm.

Sexually Hostile Work Environment

Sexually hostile work environment harassment occurs when physical, verbal, or visual sexual harassment is so severe and/or pervasive (frequent) in the workplace that it interferes with the employee’s ability to work. It is extremely important to consult an experienced sexual harassment lawyer because the courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have held that the determination of whether there is a sexually hostile work environment will depend on the frequency and severity of the conduct, including whether the offensive conduct is physically threatening or humiliating and/or the extent, if any, that such conduct interferes with the employee’s job performance.

While the questions of severe and pervasive are typically questions that must be resolved on a case by case basis, there are some general guidelines. Unless the conduct is extremely severe, a single act of inappropriate behavior is not likely to be held as a sexual harassment hostile work environment by Ohio courts. A single unwanted invitation to a date or onetime display of a naked picture will not likely create a hostile work environment. But, a number of relatively minor incidents – regardless of whether they are the same conduct – may amount to sexual harassment. These may include: comments and remarks of a sexual nature; comments or jokes that address the employee’s physical appearance and/or genitalia; inappropriately touching, especially in a sexually provocative manner; requests, comments or jokes to an employee about having sexual interaction with a coworker; displaying, posting, or electronically sending sexually graphic pictures and/or drawings, whether personal, downloaded or commercially printed images (naked magazine pinups or calendars); displaying, posting, or electronically sending sexually explicit literature, including a graphic description of personal sexual encounters or a fictional sexual story or a joke; and/or playing sexually explicit music, particularly when combined with sexually suggestive dancing.

On the other hand, if the conduct is sufficiently severe, such as a rape or attempted rape, it will probably be held by an Ohio court to constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment hostile work environment claims do not require a loss or threat of loss of your job, demotion, adverse action, or the promise of benefits.

Combined Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment And Sexually Hostile Work Environment

There is often an overlap between quid pro quo sexual harassment and sexual harassment hostile work environment. For example, our sexual harassment attorneys have seen several cases where a manager has promised a benefit (promotion, raise, better shift) in exchange for naked pictures of a subordinate, but then emails or posts the pictures of the harassment victim so that other employees can see it. Regardless of whether the promised benefit is actually given, this conduct raises claims for both quid pro quo sexual harassment and sexual harassment hostile work environment.

Because sexual harassment comes in a variety of forms, your best option is to get a free consultation from a qualified employment law attorney regarding the specifics of your sexual harassment case. And, you should definitely call Spitz, The Employee's Law Firm, if you find yourself saying or searching for:

  • I was sexually harassed at work by my manager. Can I sue?
  • My boss told me that I have to have sex with him to save my job.
  • I was fired after I refused to have sex with my boss.
  • My supervisor pulled me into a room and forced me to give him a blow job in order to avoid getting fired.
  • My manager keeps rubbing his crotch up against me when he walks past me.
  • I reported a coworker to the human resources representative for sending me naked pictures but my company won’t do anything about it.
  • The owner of the company sent me pictures of his penis and other naked photographs.
  • I was fired after reporting to HR that my boss was sexually harassing me.
  • Someone keeps leaving dildos and other sex toys on my desk, and HR will not investigate my complaints of sexual harassment.
  • My manager made me go to a strip club with him and clients and get a lap dance.
  • My boss got drunk at a company party, grabbed my breasts and rubbed his penis against my leg.
  • My job has naked pictures posted around the office.
  • My regional manager keeps slapping my ass every time he sees me.
  • My boss calls me into his office and makes me flash him my boobs.
  • I’m not sure how to get my manager to stop sexting me.
  • My supervisor follows me into the supply closet and keeps trying to kiss me.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Harassment

At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, we believe all deserve a fair, equal and safe workplace. Here are some of our most commonly seen questions throughout this issue:

What Should I Do If I Am Being Sexually Harassed At Work By My Boss? How Should I React If My Manager Keeps Trying To Have Sex With Me?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Most importantly, say no and protect yourself. If you ever feel in physical danger, call the police. It is absolutely critical to report complaints of sexual harassment in writing. If your boss, manager, or direct supervisor is the one sexually harassing you, give or send the written report to someone higher on the organizational chart or to HR. Your written complaint can be made on paper, by email, through fax, or even by text message. Your written complaint should expressly identify the person or persons involved and the specific acts of sexual harassment.

Describe as many of the sexually harassing incidents as possible, but make clear that you have not listed everything if there is more to tell. Lastly, make sure that you keep copies of every written complaint that you submit to your company, management, HR, etc., as well as anything that you receive back regarding your sexual harassment complaints. If you are having a difficult time doing this on your own, please call our experienced sexual harassment attorneys for a free initial consultation so that we will help you deal with this difficult situation.

Do I Have A Sexual Harassment Claim If I Am Being Sexually Harassed By A Co-Worker? What Should I Do If A Coworker Keeps Trying To Kiss Me And Sends Me Naked Pictures Of His Penis?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: In order to have a sexual harassment claim for conduct done by a co-worker, you must timely report it to your boss, manager, supervisor or human resources and allow them the opportunity to investigate and correct the problem. However, if management directly observed and permitted the sexually harassing conduct to continue, you may have a claim even before reporting the conduct. Nonetheless, the best approach is to timely report it. If management or HR does nothing to stop the sexual harassment by your co-worker, you should be able to assert a claim directly against the company for its failure to act. Again, you should document all sexual harassment in writing, including sharing all naked pictures that are sent to you.

Do not be discouraged if nothing is done about sexual harassment after your first complaint. Instead, it is very important for you to keep reporting it every time it happens. Obviously, if it gets to a point where you do not feel safe, remove yourself from the environment and let your boss or manager know that is why you are leaving. If it has gotten to that point, it is very important to consult and get help from the best employment law attorney that you can find.

Is My Boss Allowed To Fire Me If I Report Him To HR For Sending Groping Me And Trying To Kiss Me? Can I Be Fired For Reporting Sexual Harassment About My Manager?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: No. Well, you cannot lawfully be fired for reporting and opposing sexual harassment. Both Ohio and Federal law make it illegal for your employer to retaliate against for making a good faith report of sexual harassment. Employment lawyers call this wrongful termination. These same laws also make it unlawful for a company or employer to retaliate against any person (even if he or she is not the victim) for reporting sexual harassment, testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing. To that end, a manager or supervisor cannot fire, demote, discipline or take other adverse actions against any employee who engages in the above protected activities. Indeed, often the retaliation claim is stronger than many sexual harassment claims.

What Type Of Damages Can I Get For Sexual Harassment? What Is My Claims For Sexual Harassment Worth?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Until amended in 1991, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed sexual harassment victims to collect only back pay, lost wages and be reinstated in their jobs. But, as amended in 1991, Title VII now allows sexual harassment victims to recovers damages that can include “future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses.”

These sexual harassment victims can also win punitive damages if the employer acted with malice or with reckless or callous indifference. Further adding to the rights of sexual harassment victims, in 1998 the United States Supreme Court in, Ellerth v. Burlington Industries and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, held that companies may be held vicariously liable if supervisors sexually harass workers even if the employees do not report the harassment and suffered no tangible loss. However, because a lot of different factors will play into what your particular sexual harassment claim is worth, the best way for you to get a sense of what you may recover for being sexually harassed by your boss is to consult a top employee’s attorney.

Can My Boss Sexually Harass Me At A Company Event Or A Bar After Work? What Should I Do If My Manager Got Drunk At The Company Holiday Party And Tried To Have Sex With Me?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Your boss or manager cannot engage in quid pro quo sexual harassment simply by making the demands for sex while off the clock or off work premises. Forcing subordinates into having sex, performing sexual favors, kissing, or sending naked photographs or pictures off the clock for promotions or job safety is plainly illegal. As for hostile work environment sexual harassment, there may be a claim for sexual harassment if the of the clock or off-premises conduct is so severe and pervasive as to affect the victims’ ability to work.

As A Man, Can I Bring A Sexual Harassment Claim Against A Woman Boss? Can Female Managers Be Sued For Sexual Harassment By Male Employees?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Sexual harassment claims are not just for women. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), 16.4 percent of the sexual harassment charges are filed by men. All of the claim requirements and advice above applies equally to male victims of sexual harassment as it does women. (See Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Doing This FirstFile With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? Call The Right AttorneyShould 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).

Can I Be Sexually Harassed By Someone Of The Same Gender? Can There Be LGBT Or LGBTQ Sexual Harassment?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Yes. Sexual harassment claims are not limited to cross-gender conduct. Men can be sexually harassed by men, and women can be sexually harassed by women. In fact, the most employment discrimination protection that LGBT/LGBTQ workers have is under sexual harassment laws.

My Boss Said That I Don’t Have A Sexual Harassment Claim Because I Agreed To Have Sex With Him Once Already. Is That True?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: To avoid liability, our attorneys have heard countless stories of managers and supervisors informing their victims of sexual harassment because they performed the sexual act even under threat, they have no claim because they consented.

While it is certainly preferable for the sexual harassment victim to reject all requests for sexual favors, the United States Supreme Court has held that even if the employee engaged in sexual relations a number of times with a superior, she still has the right to recover for sexual harassment if her performance of sexual acts was not voluntary and/or due to fear of retaliation. To that end, a sexual harassment victim cannot truly “consent” if there is threat, intimidation, or retaliation involved in the unwelcome conduct.

If I Previously Dated My Boss But Broke Up With Him, Can His Sexual Advances At Work Still Be Sexual Harassment?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Yes, but you will need to take a few extra steps. One of the legal requirements for any type of sexual harassment claim is that the conduct being complained of is “unwelcome.” While your boss, supervisor, or manager may argue that his or her sexual advances are not unwelcome based on your prior relationship, you should be ready to produce documentation that those advances are indeed unwelcome. You should send your boss one or more text messages or emails letting him know that his or her sexual advances are now unwelcome. This way, you have some tangible evidence on this issue.

Moreover, if your ex-boyfriend/manager takes “tangible employment action” (fired, demoted, refused to promote, etc.) because you dumped him or will not continue to have sex with him, it is less essential to prove the “unwelcome” element of a sexual harassment case. Instead, the company that you work for will have to show that was a non-discriminatory reason for taking that tangible employment action. Of course, you will be given a chance to show that the company’s reason for demoting or firing you was a lie, or what employment discrimination lawyers call pretext.

I Was Fired Because Refused Blow My Boss Or Have Sex With Him; Can I Sue? Do I Have A Claim For Sexual Harassment Or Wrongful Termination?

Sexual Harassment Attorney: Our employment attorneys have provided as much information as we possibly can on this employment law website, but your particular chances to prevail on a claim for sexual harassment and wrongful termination cannot be properly evaluated without a discussion regarding the facts relating to your termination and employment situation. Because our employment law attorneys fight for employees’ rights every day, we offer a free initial consultation for Ohio claims. It is not worth guessing about your possible rights and claims when a call or filling out a submission form or set up a telephone call to get you a free answer.

Call a Sexual Harassment Lawyer For Help Today

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 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. Employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harassment.

Because we know that many clients are not able to afford the costs of litigation up front, we take on more cases on a contingency fee basis than most firms. Contingency fee agreements mean that the client need not pay any fee for legal services unless and until our employment attorneys recover money and/or results on your sexual harassment claim.

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