What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Although Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act made sexual harassment in the workplace illegal as of 1964, it still unfortunately occurs with alarming regularity. Some forms of sexual harassment may also be criminal offenses. Unfortunately few law enforcement agencies are willing to prosecute sexual harassment crimes where there are no serious bodily injuries or physical evidence. If you are the victim of sexual harassment or other forms of gender-based discrimination, read “Handling Gender Discrimination in the Workplace” to learn what you can do it about. The best first step is to contact an experienced attorney for advice.

Sexual Harassment is Complicated

The law governing sexual harassment is complicated. Whether you have a case depends on applying complicated legal rules to the specific facts of your situation. The harassment you receive has to be serious enough to violate the law, and only an experienced lawyer can make that judgment. But if you feel you are being sexually harassed, you probably are and you definitely should speak to a lawyer right away rather than waiting for the harassment to get worse. Sometimes sexual harassment start out verbal, becomes physical and ends up in a sexual assault.

Verbal Harassment

Your boss, supervisor or coworker should not be talking to you about sex at work. Sexual talk may be simply something you overhear between others, or it may be directed at you. If it is directed at you, it may be simply offensive words or it may be requests to engage in sexual acts. If any of this is happening, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you are likely being sexually harassed. You should tell the person who is harassing you to stop, and if they don’t you should speak to a lawyer about whether your legal rights have been violated and what you can do about it.

Physical Harassment

There’s no reason that your boss or supervisor or coworker should ever be touching you in the workplace. Even if they ask for permission, it’s still not right. Many employees would be intimidated by such a request, and afraid to say “no” because of fear that they would be punished or even fired. If you are being touched at your job and it makes you feel uncomfortable, your legal rights may be violated. You should speak to a lawyer and find out. If physical harassment is bad enough, it may be something that can be reported to the police for law enforcement action.

Quid Pro Quo

Sometimes boss or supervisor or coworker will not harass you verbally or physically. Instead, the employer will just make sure you understand that if you want to keep your job or benefits, or get a promotion, you’ll need to play along with certain sexual demands. The employer may just want to flirt with you, or they may be seeking actual sex acts. If this is happening to you, your legal rights may be violated. You should speak to a lawyer and find out.


You have the right to complain about sexual harassment. You have the right to make a complaint within your company, and you have the right to make a complaint to an administrative agency or in court. If you complain and your employer tries to punish or fire you because of it, your legal rights are violated and you may have the right to seek compensation for this mistreatment, as well as reinstatement if you are fired. You should speak to a lawyer and find out about your rights if you think this has happened to you.

Take Legal Action

If you have followed your company’s policies but gender discrimination continues, you can consider taking action to put a stop to the mistreatment . Pursuing a legal case holds your employer accountable, protects other employees at your job and allows you to obtain monetary compensation for the turmoil you have suffered. Lawyers who specialize in handling sexual harassment cases can represent and advocate for you, while protecting you from retaliation and job loss. Relying on an experienced attorney can give you peace of mind, confidence and support during this time of stress.

Get Compensation

A person who proves they are the victim of gender discrimination can get various kinds of compensation in court. They can get lost past and future wages, they can get compensation for emotional pain and suffering, and if they can prove the employer’s actions were willful they can get punitive damages. They can also get their attorneys fees.

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