If you work a service industry job, you know that “appropriate behavior” is often much more flexible than in a traditional office workplace. However, while professionalism may look different in the service industry than it does in the corporate world, every worker deserves a safe workplace free from sexual harassment.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment is often more common in service industry workplaces. If you believe that you experienced sexual harassment in your service industry job, make sure that you take action to protect your rights and create a safer workplace for others in your industry. An experienced employment law attorney can help you understand your experience from a legal perspective and recommend strategies for pursuing justice.
Who harassed you?
Depending on who harassed you at your job, you may have a number of different remedies. If the harassment came from another employee or associate of the company, your employer may face consequences depending on their response to your claims.
Even if the harassment comes from someone unrelated to the business, the employer is responsible for its response. If your employer takes action against you for reporting your harassment, they are breaking the law. It is illegal to retaliate against employees for reporting sexual harassment.
If your employer is a very small company with fewer than 15 employees, they may not be subject to the protections to employees under the Civil Rights Act. However, you may still have the legal remedies.
Quid pro quo or hostile work environment?
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, sexual harassment in the workplace can take two forms. It may either occur as quid pro quo harassment or as a hostile work environment. A quid pro quo harassment case arises when a superior at work uses his or her position to harass an employee against the threat of losing some benefit.
This might mean that a manager pressures an employee for sexual favors in return for a promotion, for instance. In quid pro quo complaints, one instance of harassment is sufficient to file a claim.
Hostile work environment claims may involve more subtle harassment, but also generally require a few instances of harassment to constitute a claim. This might be a coworker who repeatedly makes inappropriate remarks or touches a person without permission. Be sure to document and report this behavior, both for your employer’s sake and for your own protection.
Don’t wait to begin fighting back
If you suffer workplace sexual harassment in a service industry job, you do not deserve that kind of treatment. You may want to consult with an attorney to understand what options you have to fight back. Fighting back against harassment is not something other people do — we must all do our part to put an end to sexual harassment.