Sexual harassment, which includes unwelcome sexual advances, obscene or lewd comments, and inappropriate actions, is worryingly common in Florida and around the country. Allegations of sexual harassment are sometimes trivialized or covered up by employers worried about their reputations or those of their managers and executives, which could be why studies have found that this kind of behavior usually goes unreported. Workers may be especially reluctant to step forward when the harassment takes the form of a hostile work environment.
Workplaces become toxic when inappropriate behavior and lewd comments are commonplace, and little or nothing is done about it. Employees who are pestered repeatedly for dates may be told that they should be flattered when they file complaints, and sexual imagery displayed on walls or attached to emails could be dismissed as workers simply expressing themselves and having fun. Even dress codes can contribute to sexual harassment at work when they require employees to wear revealing clothing or put different rules into place for men and women.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment
Sexual harassment in the form of a hostile work environment is pervasive and consistent, but a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim can be based on a single incident. This kind of harassment usually occurs when a supervisor or manager offers a subordinate preferential treatment in return for sexual favors or threatens this person with an adverse employment action if he or she refuses. Employers tend to take this type of allegation more seriously as the consequences for condoning this kind of behavior can be severe. These consequences can include criminal investigations and the awarding of punitive damages to workers who pursue civil remedies.
Attorneys with experience in this area may advise people who experience sexual harassment at work to keep detailed records of the events in question as employers may be more likely to take allegations seriously when they are backed up by evidence. These records should include the name of the harasser and all others present as well as a description of the events. Photographs of inappropriate material in the workplace and copies of lewd emails may provide evidence of harassment. Attorneys could then suggest filing lawsuits against employers, seeking damages to cover lost wages and employment benefits and compensate harassment victims for their emotional distress.