Sexual harassment by those in positions of authority has been in the news a lot more the last few years. Some cases involve political figures, sports figures and even those outside the public eye. The collective voices of the people speaking out against sexual harassment have sparked a national conversation about a person’s fundamental right to a discrimination-free workplace.
Federal and State laws prohibit sexual harassment. Harassers and victims can be male or female and both can be of the same or different sex. Washington State Law takes it a step further than Federal Law and protects against sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. These laws have been in place for many years, but are only effective if they are utilized. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC website contains useful information about what you should do if you are being harassed at work.
Many victims of sexual harassment in the workplace don’t report the harassment because they fear losing their job. This is especially true if the harasser is a supervisor, manager or in some other position of authority. Anti-discrimination laws protect against retaliation for reporting harassment. Retaliation can include losing your job, as well as other less obvious retaliatory actions like being moved to a different department, getting a pay cut or being isolated from co-workers.
Promptly reporting harassment to a higher official is essential to put the employer on notice that discrimination is occurring. If nothing is done after reporting the harassment, the employer may be opening themselves up to a discrimination lawsuit.
Employers must promptly investigate every report of harassment in the workplace and take decisive action. If there is a workplace policy about sexual harassment, it should be followed. Every time! The policy and enforcement should not differ in its implementation no matter who is being accused.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. If you’re a victim of sexual harassment, you should immediately document the events. An attorney experienced with sexual harassment cases can help hold employers who harass their employees accountable. Contact Cooney Law Offices today. We can help!