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The 3 most common forms of workplace sexual harassment

Men and women alike can be victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. No matter where you work, you may have encountered harassing behaviors before. If so, you are familiar with the discomfort and anxiety that often results. According to the Huffington Post, as many as one in three women has experienced sexual harassment at work.

It is important to be aware of the different forms sexual harassment can take. These are just three of the most common manifestations you may find; sexual harassment certainly is not limited to these actions. If you have been a victim of any such abuses, you should seek recourse through human resources or legal representation.

Uber makes changes after report issued

Many Florida employees understand just how much of a problem workplace sexual harassment can be. A former Uber engineer claimed that she was sexually harassed and that management did nothing after she reported the issue. On June 6, the company had a meeting involving all 12,000 of its employees. The meeting was to discuss the findings of an outside law firm that was hired after those specific allegation and other similar claims were made.

An investigation into more than 200 claims of sexual harassment and other complaints of misconduct at the company led to the termination of 20 employees. Some of those who were let go were senior executives . Furthermore, 40 more employees were either reprimanded or asked to receive counseling or additional training. The company also created a hotline where both current and former employees could make complaints.

Is your workplace ADA compliant?

The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and has been one of the most important advancements made for the people who are covered under its terms. The law outlines various stipulations with the objective of making all places accommodating to individuals with special needs.

For job seekers who are disabled, ADA is particularly important in ensuring that employers provide accommodations. Workers should be aware of some of the most common ADA violations in the workplace.

Specificity not requried for EEOC charge

Florida employees who have been victims of workplace sexual harassment may be interested in a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit regarding a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim. The court rejected the argument submitted by the employer that the EEOC charge did not specify quid pro quo harassment and reversed the dismissal of the claim and returned it to the court for trial.

There are two forms of sexual harassment banned under Title VII that are recognized by most human resource professionals. Quid pro quo harassment takes place when a person in authority demands sexual deeds from a subordinate as a requirement of employment. Hostile work environment harassment occurs when an individual's behavior results in abusive working conditions.

What to know about sexual harassment on the job

Florida residents may have heard about sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims made at companies such as Fox News and Uber. However, other organizations such as Microsoft, Wells Fargo and KPMG have also had problems related to these issues. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one out of three women have been sexually harassed at work. It also noted that the least likely response is for any formal action to be taken.

Roughly 75 percent of all women who have experienced harassment at work never talked to a manager or union representative about their experiences. Common reasons for not reporting abuse include a fear that claims will be doubted or that no action will be taken after they are made. However, companies that turn a blind eye to harassment claims could find that there are financial consequences to doing so.

Judge rules in favor of trans woman

Florida residents may have heard about a case involving a transgender woman who will be allowed to sue her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court ruled that she could proceed with an employment discrimination lawsuit because gender dysphoria is covered by the ADA. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2014 and claimed that the woman was fired after false accusations were made against her.

The suit also claims that she was forced to wear a name tag with her birth name on it and was not allowed to use a women's restroom while working at Cabela's in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. In making his ruling, the judge did not address the merits of the case. It only responded to a request from the company to dismiss the claim because gender identity was not included in the ADA.

Myths and misconceptions about workplace sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a common occurrence in the workplace, but some believe it is underreported. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that the number of sex-based harassment allegations has remained about the same over the past six years. In 2016, the EEOC received 12,860 reports, but this does not include charges filed with state or local agencies. One reason sexual harassment goes unreported is because of the myths surrounding the issue. 

Do you believe these misconceptions? 

  • Only women are sexually harassed. Men are the harassers. This is untrue. Men may be the stereotypical harasser, but women can harass men, too. There have also been many cases of same-sex harassment. 
  • Harassment is simply flirting or joking. It occurs because there is sexual attraction between the harasser and victim. Sexual harassment is rarely about sex, but about power and intimidation. 
  • Harassment requires a physical component. Harassment takes many forms, from verbal to physical. It can be subtle or overt. 
  • If you ignore harassment, it will stop. One of the best ways to get harassment to stop is to ask the harasser to quit. Ignoring the problem generally makes things worse. 
  • Women who dress or act provocatively are more commonly harassed. Actually, studies show that women who dress conservatively are just as likely to be victims of harassment. Blaming the harassment on how women act or dress is not acceptable. The harasser holds the responsibility for his or her actions. 
  • If you report sexual harassment, you might get fired. Sadly, many people believe this myth. The EEOC protects persons who report sexual harassment. If you do experience retaliation for making a report about harassment, you may be able to take action against the company. 

Many female fast food workers are subjected to sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a problem across virtually all industries, but female workers in certain fields may be experiencing it at higher rates than those in others. According to Eater, 40 percent of American women who work within the fast food industry experience on-the-job sexual harassment, and these unwanted advances are having considerable negative impacts that extend far beyond the workplace.

In 2016, a research firm surveyed more than 1,200 women over the age of 16 who worked at fast food restaurants about the prevalence of the sexual harassment problem, and with alarming results. Of those women surveyed, one in eight reported they experienced unwelcome sexual attention or advances while at work, but many also reported feeling trapped in their positions and unable to leave, despite the mistreatment. More than 40 percent of women surveyed reported feeling as if they had to “put up” with the harassment, or fear termination.   

Acting as a whistleblower in the workplace

Florida employees might have heard about whistleblowers in the news and wondered what protections could be available for them if they have observed something illegal in their workplace. Different industries have different standards and offer different protections. However, there are a few overall rules that most employees should observe.

It is best to try to resolve the issue in the workplace initially. A person should put everything in writing and avoid talking about the issue publicly, including on social media. Whistleblowers might also want to contact an attorney at this point to get a fuller understand of their rights and as protection against retaliation. There are certain types of whistleblower cases, such as "qui tam" cases, in which reporting wrongdoing to the government may also result in a reward going to the whistleblower.

FMLA case looks at decision behind woman's firing

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act grants employees in Florida some protections when they need to attend to health problems for themselves or family members, the use of the leave sometimes results in legal disputes. An employee could be fired after returning from a leave, like the plaintiff in a case reviewed in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Under certain circumstances, such an action could be considered retaliation for lawful conduct and a court might assign liability to the employer for damages suffered by the plaintiff.

The panel of judges ruling on the case of a woman demoted and then dismissed after taking an approved leave sided with the former employee. The case revolved around the fact that two lower-level supervisors manipulated the higher-level decision maker who ultimately ended the person's employment.

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