What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

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Explaining What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment in Louisville, Kentucky (KY)
In this article, the attorneys at Durrett & Kersting Law, PLLC—conveniently located in Louisville, Kentucky (KY)—are here to provide you with some professional insight on the complex issues of workplace sexual harassment. If you have experienced this issue, contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a widespread problem in the U.S., despite all the efforts to raise awareness and address the situation through legal means. It is regarded as a matter of sex discrimination that is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VII, which is a federal law prohibiting discrimination in employment based on color, race, sex, religion, and national origin. Not only is this type of harassment a civil rights violation, it can be a crime in certain situations, as well.

Sexual harassment at work can take many forms. The victim is subjected to unwelcome conduct directed towards the victim’s gender or of a sexual nature, which generates an offensive or hostile work environment and can also adversely impact the victim’s job. In typical scenarios, the harasser is in a position of power over the victim. In fear of being terminated by the authoritative figure, the harassed party is trapped and must suffer through the harassment. The unsolicited behavior must be severe or persistent in order to constitute sexual harassment that creates an environment that is not conducive for work. This would be conduct such as physical assault or continuous bombardment of comments, offensive images, or date requests.

By law a single incident, such as a dirty joke told by a coworker, would not be considered harassment. The presence of offensive visuals including drawings, photographs, or images on computer screens which contribute to a hostile atmosphere, can be deemed sexual harassment. The adverse employment action most often occurs after the victim rejects the sexual advances of the harasser. In retaliation for this, they may give poor performance reviews or fire the individual.

While sexual harassment is not a crime, some acts of sexual harassing conduct are criminal. Intentionally making physical contact in an offensive manner is a form of harassment, and it may fall under the assault and battery criminal laws of the state. If the harasser denies the victim the freedom of movement through physical force or with threats, this can violate the criminal laws prohibiting unlawful restraint or false imprisonment. Bullying is forbidden by some criminal codes, and sexual harassment in certain cases can violate anti-bullying laws. An example of this is when the harasser posts sexually obscene comments on the victim’s social media page, with full knowledge that coworkers visit the page. If the harasser escalates to following the victim, waits for them in the parking lot, or other stalking behavior, they can be charged with this crime.
For those experiencing sexual harassment and wish to come forward, it is highly important to document everything with an attention to detail. Keep records of all exchanges with the harasser, when you reported the harassment, and job productivity. No information is too trivial when it pertains to confronting harassment in the workplace.

At Durrett & Kersting Law, PLLC we have extensive knowledge and experience in many areas of practice including criminal law. We thoroughly explain the legal process to clients, with special attention to the pros, cons, and potential outcomes, so clients can know with confidence that they are making the best decision. We are located in Louisville, KY and proudly serve Kentucky and Indiana. Call us today for a consultation.

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