What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is legally defined as unwelcome sexual advances in the workplace that affect an employee’s ability to do his or her job. Despite what many people may think, harassment is not always committed by a man against a woman; it may be committed by a woman against a man, or between two people of the same gender. It also does not have to be committed by a supervisor against an employee; the harasser could be a co-worker, a supervisor without direct authority over a victim, or sometimes even a non-employee.
Common scenarios for sexual harassment include:
- Unwanted touching, including physically blocking a person’s movements.
- Unwanted sexual advances.
- Targeting a victim for hostile or offensive treatment because of his or her gender.
- Offering benefits like a raise or promotion in exchange for sexual favors.
- Displaying sexually suggestive materials in the workplace.
- Graphic commentaries on and suggestions about a victim’s body, or using sexually suggestive language to describe a victim.
If you or someone you care about has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a sexual harassment lawyer toll free at (803) 454-1200 or online for a consultation.
There are two basic categories of sexual harassment:
- The harasser uses his or her position of power to explicitly or implicitly make the victim’s job, duties or benefits dependent on providing sexual favors.
- The harasser’s insulting, intimidating or ridiculing behavior creates a hostile work environment, which unreasonably interferes with the victim’s job or denies the victim’s right to a safe workplace.
Sexual harassment is illegal under the federal Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex as well as other protected categories like race, national origin and religion. It applies to all businesses with 15 employees or more, as well as all levels of government and labor organizations. Other, special laws may apply to employees of government contractors, universities and others. If sexual harassment is severe enough to include assault, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy or other serious charges, it may also fall under South Carolina state law.
Victims of sexual harassment often hesitate to come forward because they’re not sure their situation “counts,” fear that they’ll be fired if they say anything or don’t want to cause trouble for colleagues they once liked and respected. But sexual harassment is a serious crime, and its victims have rights. Those rights include laws that make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who reports sexual harassment, and provide steep penalties for those who do retaliate. Employees who feel sexually harassed do have the duty to inform their employers of the unwelcome behavior; an employer must make a good-faith, substantial effort to correct the situation in order to avoid liability and worker’s compensation.
Contact Our South Carolina Sexual Harassment Attorneys Today
The Louthian Law Firm is proud to have won a large settlement for a sexual harassment victim in April of 2007. If you believe you or someone you care about may also have been sexually harassed at work, we want to help. We have worked with injured South Carolinians since 1959; we’re sympathetic to clients who are going through a tough time in their lives. Contact us today at toll free at (803) 454-1200 for a confidential evaluation of your case, or fill out our online form.