Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Houston
Sexual Harassment Lawyers Protect Civil Rights
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, which is
why it is so important to know what sexual harassment may look like, and
what you should do if it happens to you. The boss that pinches the backside
of the assistant; the cubicle neighbor who posts photos or jokes of an
offensive sexual nature; the supervisor who seduces an underling, and
then demotes him when he refuses to continue the affair—these are
all examples of sexual harassment on the job.
Whether you have been a victim of workplace harassment, you think you may
be experiencing harassment, or you have complete confidence that you never
will be harassed in your current place of business, it is always important
to be prepared.
Even in the most welcoming of work environments, it is possible to experience
some sort of sexual harassment, however minor or well-hidden. Sexual harassment,
in the workplace and beyond, can be extremely detrimental on an emotional,
physical, and professional scale. Sexual harassment at work can cause
serious psychological damage, could impede job performance, might be physically
uncomfortable or harmful, and may present a number of other serious issues.
For these reasons and more, it absolutely crucial that everyone is able
to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace.
Houston employment law firm of Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP for an initial consultation if you are experiencing
an uncomfortable situation on the job as a result of sexual harassment.
Contact a Houston sexual harassment lawyer online or call (713) 352-3433 for a consultation.
Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment can be humiliating, professionally damaging, and may
affect the victim’s work performance. In extreme situations, a worker,
usually a boss, may use raises or job promotions as bartering chips in
return for sexual favors. Or, a coworker could be making inappropriate
comments that make another employee feel uncomfortable. Regardless of
the supposed severity of the situation, any type of sexual harassment
in the workplace is deemed inappropriate and is punishable by law.
The following may be red flags for sexual harassment in the workplace:
- Remarks or comments referring to someone’s personal appearance or
private areas, especially using sexual language
- Inappropriate touching, especially in a provocative manner
- When one employee, typically someone in an authoritative position, makes
sexual advances towards another worker
- Forwarding someone’s personal photos that are graphic or sexual in
nature, even if they were obtained online
- Forwarding someone’s writings that are sexual or provocative and
were intended to be personal (email, text messages, etc.)
What Does the Law Say About Sexual Harassment?
For over 40 years, sexual harassment at work has been explicitly prohibited
as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite nearly
two generations of awareness and education on the topic, sexual harassment
is still a reality for too many workers.
Specifically, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as follows:
- “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other
verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature…when submission to
or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's
employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance
or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”
How to Handle Workplace Sexual Harassment
The workplace is supposed to be a neutral zone where employees can comfortably
and safely work without fear of being subjected to prejudice or harassment
due to their gender. Unfortunately, while many understand that sexual
harassment in the workplace is a serious issue, many are ill-prepared
to deal with it if they should ever experience it firsthand. If you should
ever encounter some form of unwanted sexual attention or mistreatment,
there are several things you can do to protect your rights.
Do not quit: Many people may resign immediately after being subject to sexual harassment,
as they are too uncomfortable or embarrassed by their situation to take
action. While this is understandable, quitting will often leave you unable
to do anything to fix the situation and provide your harasser with the
opportunity to harass someone else.
Check your employee handbook: While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ushered in an unprecedented
level of protections for employees and job seekers against discrimination
based on a wide range of protected characteristics, workplace harassment
is not specifically addressed within its text. According to the Supreme
Court, however, harassment that is “sufficiently severe or pervasive”
is a violation of federal law. While this can be vague, in many cases,
the definition of harassment is made much clearer within a company’s
employee handbook. In other words, while the treatment that you have received
may not be enough to violate the law, it may very well be considered a
violation of company policy. Prohibited acts may include lewd comments,
touching, sexual jokes, or even repeated requests for dates.
Submit a written complaint: If someone at work has done something to make you feel uncomfortable,
speak to them about it – in writing, if possible. While this may
be awkward, there is a possibility that they have made an error without
realizing it and will correct their behavior. Otherwise, if the behavior
continues, you will have made a record of their conduct and will be able
to avoid a “he said, she said” battle in court.
Report your mistreatment: Many companies have policies that require employees to report complaints
of harassment to human resources or to some other authority figure. This
can be difficult if the person harassing you is your boss, or if the person
responsible for handling harassment claims is particularly close to your
harasser. Your employer should have a list of alternate people to report
to. Regardless, be sure to follow the established reporting procedure,
as the Supreme Court says that you must give your employer the chance
to correct the situation before you can sue. It is important to remember
that your employer does not have to fire the harasser – they only
have to make your mistreatment stop. Once your company is aware of the
situation, they may be held liable if they fail to take action.
File an EEOC complaint: If your employer has still done nothing to remedy the situation, the
next step is to file a “Formal Complaint of Sexual Harassment”
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission detailing everything
that was said, done, and experienced. Be sure to indicate that your mistreatment
was based on your gender. Likewise, report any retaliation that you may
experience from your harasser or employer to the EEOC.
Hire an attorney: By far the most important step when taking action against workplace harassment
is to retain the services of a powerful attorney. Sexual harassment cases
frequently boil down to a matter of your word against your harasser’s,
so it is imperative you have an advocate by your side who can strengthen
Taking Action to Fight for Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment on the job need not be tolerated. If you are a victim
of sexual harassment at work in Texas or anywhere in the United States,
the Houston employment law firm of Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP wants to
be your advocate. Please contact us for an evaluation of your sexual harassment
situation and a discussion of how you can help yourself, and how we might help you.
If your job is on the line, we can take steps to protect it. If you wish
to motivate your employer to take steps to stop the harassment, we can
help you file the appropriate complaints within the time frame allowed
by law. And if you believe you have suffered economic loss as a result
of the sexual harassment, we can help you document that and prepare to
file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your loss.
Call Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP at (713) 352-3433
The sexual harassment attorneys at Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP have experience
in resolving this type of complaint for clients throughout Texas and across
the nation. We encourage you to contact an
employment law attorney in Houston regarding your case. We are happy to answer your questions and to tell
you more about your options.
Contact us at (713) 352-3433 to discuss your sexual harassment matter.