If you were the victim of sexual harassment, Cleveland attorney Tom Robenalt, who’s licensed to practice in Ohio and Florida, can help you pursue justice. For the past 20 years, Tom has helped individuals recover from tremendous losses, both physical and emotional. He credits his mom for teaching him that helping others in their time of need inspires hope in our society, and today that hope is needed more than ever. If you have questions about filing a harassment claim, please call 216-223-7535, submit this form, or email [email protected] for a free consultation.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
One U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) definition of sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature” that “is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment,” interferes with the victim’s work performance, or results in the victim feeling intimidated or being fired or demoted.
Sexual harassment may also be visual, such as the display of sexually suggestive material, the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) said.
Other examples include:
- teasing, joking, or commenting about sex-related matters;
- massaging or touching an employee/coworker sexually;
- giving intimate gifts; and
- asking questions about an employee/coworker’s sex life.
According to Florida law, employers cannot:
- ask for sexual favors in exchange for initial employment, a promotion, or a raise;
- discipline or fire an employee for ending a romantic relationship; or
- change performance expectations because an employee turned down requests for a date.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As history.com said, this law ended racial segregation in public places, and it prohibited employers from being able to discriminate against applicants and employees due to their race, color, religion, gender, or ethnicity. The law applies to employers, including government agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations, that employ 15 or more people.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Sexual Harassment?
The person doing the harassing may be:
- the victim’s supervisor;
- a supervisor in a different department;
- a coworker; or
- a client or customer.
How Does a Court Decide Whether a Situation Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
As the OSBA said, a court will consider all factors, including whether:
- a reasonable person would feel like the conduct is sexual harassment;
- the victim told the alleged harasser that the conduct is unwanted; and
- the victim reported the sexual harassment to the appropriate individual, per the company’s harassment policy.
It’s always wise to file a grievance in writing, but even if victims haven’t done any of these things, they shouldn’t assume they would lose their case against the harasser. Victims should also note that they don’t have to be of the opposite sex, nor do they have to be the person being harassed.
Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Common?
Unfortunately, yes. In 2015, a Cosmopolitan magazine survey of 2,235 full- and part-time female employees revealed that 1 in 3 women has been sexually harassed at work. Eighty-one percent said they were verbally harassed, 44 percent said they were touched or the target of unwanted sexual advances, and 25 percent said they received vulgar emails or text messages.
Seventy-five percent were harassed by male coworkers, 49 percent were harassed by male clients or customers, 38 percent were harassed by male managers, and 10 percent were harassed by female coworkers.
Sixty-four percent of the women who were harassed were between ages 19 and 29. Only 29 percent reported the harassment to their employer.
The following were the most common industries in which sexual harassment took place:
- Food service/hospitality (42 percent)
- Retail (36 percent)
- Science, technology, engineering, and math (31 percent)
- Arts and entertainment (31 percent)
- Legal (30 percent)
How Can You File a Sexual Harassment Claim?
Ohio and Florida laws limit the amount of time sexual harassment victims can file a claim. Contact sexual harassment attorney Tom Robenalt today by calling 216-223-7535, submitting this form, or emailing [email protected] for a free consultation. Together, we’ll build a strong case and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.