Being able to work for a living in a respectful environment that is free from harassment of all types, including sexual harassment, is a basic human right. Nevertheless, in spite of increased awareness in the past few decades, the practice continues and often goes unreported. If you have suffered from sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be able to claim compensation for your damages.
What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment can include a wide range of behaviors, including a range of physical, verbal, or non-verbal behaviors: sexual propositions, innuendo, unwanted advances, leering, comments about a person’s body or appearance, gestures, photos, drawings, or references to sexual preference. Men and women, both heterosexual and homosexual, can be victims or perpetrators of sexual harassment. The law recognizes two categories of sexual harassment:
- Quid pro quo harassment, in which allowing or submitting to unwanted sexual advances is a condition of keeping one’s job
- Unwanted sexual behavior so severe that it creates a hostile work environment
Sexual harassment in the workplace has been prohibited since 1964 by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; however, remedies at that time included only lost wages, back pay, and reinstatement if the victim was fired from the job. It wasn’t until 1991 when law professor Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas heightened awareness and led to widespread discussion of the issue and the amending of the 1964 law to give it more teeth. If you have any questions as to whether or not you experienced sexual harassment at work, consider consulting a reliable Tucson sexual harassment attorney.
Compensation for Sexual Harassment in Tucson
As a result of amendments to Title VII, a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace can now claim additional damages. Today, a person who has been harassed at work is entitled to claim compensation for these damages:
- Loss of current and future earnings and earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life and other non-monetary losses
- Punitive damages, if employer malice or callous indifference is proven
In 1992, the year following the Thomas hearings and the amending of Title VII, sexual harassment complaints increased by 50 percent. Recently, the number of complaints has declined as employers have realized the potential for financial loss if they allow inappropriate behavior to persist. To learn more, speak with a Tucson employment lawyer about the available damages specific to your case.
Sexual Harassment at Work Statistics
In spite of efforts to educate both employers and workers about sexual harassment, it still goes on. The EEOC received around 7500 complaints in 2012, with 17.8 percent made by men, but this is likely only the tip of the iceberg. People are reluctant to report it because of embarrassment and fear of retaliation, which while also illegal, still occurs. A recent poll of sexual harassment in the workplace found the following:
- Nineteen percent of the women and 6 percent of the men reported sexual harassment by a boss.
- A quarter of the women and 14 percent of the men reported harassment by a coworker.
- Only 70 percent of the employees who had been harassed reported it.
- Twenty-one percent had witnessed another person being sexually harassed at work, but only a third reported it.
Employer Responsibility for a Harassment-Free Workplace
Arizona and federal law require that employers keep sexual harassment out of their workplace. Not only should the employer issue a clearly worded, unambiguous statement of policy, but that policy also needs to be backed up by an effective complaint procedure, which is followed consistently. Employers who tolerate ongoing sexual harassment risk having punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages, awarded to a victim.
Making a Complaint of Sexual Harassment in Arizona
The first thing to do if you’ve been sexually harassed is to review your company’s grievance procedure and report the situation in accordance with the guidelines. If this yields no improvement, your next steps are to:
- Consult a Tucson sexual harassment lawyer
- Make a written complaint to the EEOC or to the Arizona state attorney general’s Civil Rights Division (CRD).
Sexual Harassment FAQs
Q. My co-worker is constantly commenting on the size of my breasts. He has never touched me. Is this sexual harassment?
A. No physical contact is required. Unwanted comments about your anatomy generally qualify as sexual harassment. Report the behavior to your employer. If it doesn’t stop, consult a sexual harassment attorney in Tucson.
Q. My female boss (I’m a guy) has come onto me on several occasions. I have a girlfriend, and we plan to announce our engagement soon. When I mentioned this to my boss, she started giving me the work no one else wants and my reviews went from excellent to mediocre. What can I do?
A. Your boss’ overt sexual interest appears to be affecting your work, which may constitute harassment. You should speak to a seasoned sexual harassment attorney to find out if you have a case.
Q. I am a woman working in a small office with only five employees. My coworker has a collection of girlie calendars and centerfolds displayed on the wall over his desk. I have to walk past this display, which I find demeaning to all women, frequently. Do I have the right to complain?
A. Sexual harassment can take the form of offensive visual displays. Even if they are not aimed specifically at you but are demeaning to all women, you have a right not to be subjected to them. Ask him to remove the pictures. If he doesn’t, report it to your boss. If this doesn’t solve the problem, your next step will be to report the situation to the Arizona State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division (CRD), which handles complaints about smaller companies like yours. Your attorney can help you file the complaint.
Contact an Experienced Tucson Sexual Harassment Lawyer
The employment harassment lawyers at Yen Pilch Robaina & Kresin PLC, in Tucson, are dedicated to protecting the rights of workers from unfair employment practices and workplace harassment. We are passionate about creating a respectful, fair, and dignified workplace in Arizona and seeing that those who have suffered from sexual harassment receive just compensation. We’ll do a thorough investigation of your claim and help you file all necessary paperwork to make a formal complaint. If you’re still working at the job where the harassment occurred, we’ll be here to ensure that there is no attempt at illegal retaliation for making the claim.
We will put together a case documenting the severity and frequency of that conduct, the humiliating or threatening nature of the behavior, the way in which it interfered with your work performance, your economic losses from the harassment, and any psychological damage that resulted.
Most harassment claims are settled out of court, but you should make sure that the lawyer you hire has the courtroom experience to successfully make your case to a jury if a trial becomes necessary. At Yen Pilch Robaina & Kresin PLC we will never avoid a jury trial if that’s what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve. From the moment we accept your harassment case, we’ll be building the documentation needed to win at trial and will be well prepared for that eventuality. When appropriate, we will demand both compensatory and punitive damages to deter the behavior in the future and increase the amount of your award.
In Tucson, if illegal workplace practices are interfering with your ability to earn a living, contact us or call (602) 833-0220 to schedule a case review with a Tucson sexual harassment attorney. We have focused exclusively on employment law since 1997 and we are committed to providing our clients with diligent, aggressive, and experienced legal representation on all workplace-related matters.
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