If you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, you are not alone. A 2018 survey found that more than 33% of American workers think their workplace encourages sexual harassment. Getting in touch with a seasoned Austin sexual harassment lawyer can help you determine your rights and develop a solid case.
- What counts as sexual harassment at work?
Sexual harassment refers to gender discrimination, including unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors. Sexual harassment does not have to be sexual. Sexual harassment can also be constituted by offensive comments about a person’s gender. Even mildly offensive incidents can be considered legal sexual harassment. A hostile work environment is a persistent or severe workplace where harassment is constant. Courts unfortunately only apply this term to more extreme forms of harassment. A single, particularly offensive comment can also create an illegally hostile working environment.
- If I report sexual harassment, will I be forced to quit my job?
It is tempting to leave your job to get rid of your harasser and the unhealthy work environment. In most cases, however, quitting your job reduces your leverage in negotiations for the best terms from your employer and weakens any legal claims that you may have been able to pursue otherwise. The law may consider your resignation to constitute a constructive dismissal in extreme cases of harassment. Your employer did not fire you, but your workplace was so abusive that you had to resign. In these cases, courts might treat your voluntary resignation as if your employer fired you. Do not simply quit and make your employer’s job easier. You can report a reasonable complaint about sexual harassment to Human Resources or your supervisor.
- What are the reasons I need to check my employer’s policies on sexual harassment?
Large employers will have policies prohibiting harassment at work. Many policies include procedures that employees must follow to report any sexual harassment. These policies often provide multiple reporting options for employees, including their direct supervisors, human resources, and via email or telephone complaints. Before you decide whether to report harassment, be sure you have a copy (electronic or paper) of your employer’s policies regarding harassment, retaliation, how to report harassment, and how the employer promises to respond to such complaints. Although it is better to obtain a copy without telling management or HR, sometimes that is impossible. You will need these policies to make the best decisions about how to proceed.
When deciding whether or not to report sexual harassment, you must consider your situation. Listed above are some points to keep in mind to make reporting workplace sexual harassment easier.