Even The Odds In Your Fight For Employee Rights
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Sexual Harassment Attorney Serving Florida

If you’re being subjected to unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, you need an advocate on your side who can stand up for your right to work in a safe and nonthreatening environment. Whether you are being made to feel uncomfortable with jokes or graphic images on someone’s computer screen, or you are being pressured to make a professional relationship into a personal one, you don’t have to endure this treatment in order to make a living.

Our sexual harassment attorneys at the Law Office of William M. Julien, P.A., can help. They will advise you on all aspects of your situation, from documenting the facts of the case to proving the full extent of your damages. You don’t have to suffer in silence anymore, and you don’t have to endure sexual harassment in order to keep a job.

Defining The Two Main Types Of Sexual Harassment

Most cases of sexual harassment fall into one of two categories: Quid pro quo harassment and hostile workplace environment. “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment, derived from the Latin phrase meaning “this for that,” happens when a manager or supervisor pressures you to provide sexual favors in exchange for keeping your job, getting a promotion or raise, or avoiding disciplinary action or a demotion. In some cases, the best remedy for a case of quid pro quo sexual harassment will involve negotiating a substantial settlement or severance package as an alternative to litigation.

In the case of a hostile workplace environment, you may find it difficult to do your job because of an inappropriately sexualized environment. This can manifest in many ways:

  • A co-worker or a supervisor may make persistent and suggestive remarks about your body or the way you dress, or touch you inappropriately.
  • Pornographic or otherwise offensive images and jokes may be allowed to circulate in the office.
  • You may be asked overly personal questions about your sex or love life.
  • A co-worker or supervisor may email or text you suggestive messages.
  • Company functions may take place in inappropriate settings such as a strip club.

Not everything that makes you uncomfortable will be considered hostile workplace sexual harassment, which we discuss in more detail below.

What Is Verbal Sexual Harassment?

Verbal sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome or inappropriate verbal conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for the victim. This type of harassment can occur in various workplace settings and can come from superiors (like team leaders and managers), co-workers, subordinates, contractors and customers.

Verbal sexual harassment may include sexual comments, obscene “jokes,” sexual innuendos, sexual propositions or other spoken communication that is sexually suggestive, offensive or demeaning. It can be directed at an individual or a group of people and is often intended to make the victim feel uncomfortable, threatened or humiliated based on their gender or gender expression.

Behaviors And Comments Generally NOT Considered To Be Sexual Harassment

There are behaviors and comments that some might take offense or exception to, yet typically aren’t considered sexual harassment or evidence of a hostile work environment. Here are some examples:

Consensual office romance: If two employees of equal status are in a romantic relationship with one another, sexual harassment likely isn’t a factor. There is no power imbalance that would give rise to quid pro quo harassment.

Argumentative behaviors: When a superior or co-worker yells or rolls their eyes during a heated exchange, it may be unprofessional and rude, but it is probably isn’t sexual harassment.

Comments about appearance related to dress codes: A superior or HR representative can comment on an employee’s appearance if their work attire isn’t professional/appropriate or if their hygiene is problematic. These comments are relevant to company policies about dress and appearance.

Innocent comments and compliments: A co-worker or superior who gives a respectful compliment about someone’s appearance (nice hairstyle, nice outfit, nice shoes, etc.) isn’t committing sexual harassment. If the comments occur very frequently and venture into inappropriate territory, however, they might be considered harassment.

If you are unsure that you have a claim, simply contact our office and discuss your concerns with one of our caring and attentive sexual harassment lawyers. We offer free initial consultations.

Examining The Common Causes Of Sexual Harassment At Work

Many people mistakenly believe that sexual harassment always stems from the harasser’s sexual attraction to the victim. This is often – but not always – a component of harassment. However, it may not be the main motivation.

Here are some of the more common causes of workplace sexual harassment.

  • An attempt to display power (usually by a manager or supervisor)
  • Men who view women colleagues as a threat to their perceived role in society
  • Companies that provide inadequate training and enforcement of anti-harassment policies
  • Attempts to reinforce an existing dynamic of gender inequality
  • Attempts to reinforce stereotypes and gender roles

It’s important to remember that sexual harassment can be committed by those of any gender against those of any gender, without regard to either the harasser’s or the victim’s sexual orientation. If a man sexually harasses another man, for instance, it doesn’t matter if both men are heterosexual. It is still sexual harassment.

Did You Face Retaliation For Reporting Harassment?

Unfortunately, sometimes workers who complain about sexual harassment at work will then find themselves the target of a retaliatory firing, demotion or any other adverse employment action. This may also happen to additional workers who are perceived to support the complaint. Retaliation of this sort is against the law. Lawsuits, therefore, can often address both the sexual harassment itself and the retaliatory action the employer may have taken in response to the victimized worker reporting the problem.

Protect Your Rights – Sexual Harassment At Work In Florida

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in Florida, our employment law attorneys can advise you on your rights regarding sexual harassment, including:

  • If the conditions might also involve a claim of constructive discharge, where conditions are so bad that a reasonable person would have little choice but to resign
  • How to document any unlawful conduct
  • Problems relating to retaliation in the workplace for reporting or resisting sexual harassment
  • Potential damages of an individual claim, including damages for physical and mental pain

While you may be tempted to take your concerns to human resources, you should know that HR works for your employer, not you. Therefore, you may want to discuss your options with a sexual harassment lawyer first.

How Do You Prove Sexual Harassment?

Many victims of workplace sexual harassment worry about being believed since they know that their harassers are unlikely to admit their actions. However, there are practical steps you can take that will make it easier to prove your allegations:

  • Document everything: Keep a detailed record of each incident, including the date, time and location of every event. Note if there were any witnesses around. Describe the behavior and/or comments that made you uncomfortable, your response and what happened after.
  • Save physical evidence: Preserve any tangible evidence of the harassment. No matter how tempting it is to throw something away or delete it, keep any emails, text messages, voicemails or objects left in your workspace. Take screenshots of online harassment via social media as well.
  • Review and report: Review your company’s policies on sexual harassment so that you can follow the proper procedures for making a report and then take those steps. Keep a record of exactly when you made the report, who you spoke with and what response you received.

Finally, consult an experienced sexual harassment attorney to explore your options and make certain that your rights are protected.

Contact Us To Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation

At the Law Office of William M. Julien, P.A., we investigate and pursue claims of sexual harassment promptly and aggressively. We handle most cases on a contingency fee basis, so you owe no attorney fees unless we successfully resolve your case.

For a free, confidential consultation about your legal options, call our Boynton Beach office at 561-560-5597 or submit an online contact form. We serve clients throughout Florida.