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Sexual harassment in the workplace

Our law firm takes allegations of sexual harassment very seriously. We believe that workers should be protected from unwelcome sexual behavior as they perform their assigned duties. Sometimes employees are unclear as to what constitutes sexual harassment on the job.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior that is directed at you because of your gender. Requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, sexually-directed remarks or physical conduct of a sexual nature all fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment.

Sometimes these actions can stem from a crude co-worker and can be quelled after notifying Human Resources and a few sessions of sensitivity training. However, other times it's more insidious, such as when one's subjecting to or refusing these advances becomes a factor in employment decisions. This is when it may be necessary to bring an attorney on board to deal with the matter.

Even in cases where employment isn't jeopardized, if the harassment is pervasive enough to create a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment, legal assistance may be your best option.

Once you've decided to take action against sexual harassment, be sure that you take these two steps first. Address your harasser and make it clearly known that their conduct toward you is completely unwelcome. Next, inform your employer of the situation in writing and tell them how you want them to address it. If your company has a policy against harassment, follow it to the best of your ability. This may mean involving Human Resources.

If your case moves into the realm of litigation, it is useful to have notes detailing each instance of harassment with dates, times, witnesses, etc. Also, make copies of your work performance records and speak with co-workers who can back up your allegations or add some of their own.

Another illegal type of harassment that is not sexual in nature is gender-based harassment. One example could be a co-worker or supervisor who constantly denigrates women by using offensive words or slurs. One can also experience sexual harassment from a member of their same sex. The legal definition of sexual harassment states that the offensive conduct occurs because of a worker's gender.

Our firm can help you wade through your employer's policy on sexual harassment to determine the best response and pave the way for litigation if necessary. For more information, contact one of our legal representatives.

Source: Holman Schiavone LLC, "Sexual Harassment" Sep. 09, 2014

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