Sexual Harassment and the Law: 3 Things You Must Know

Posted on: 22 August 2016

Sexual harassment is often responsible for some of the serious disputes between colleagues at the workplace. Unfortunately, not all employees are as informed as they ought to be about this unsavoury situation. For this reason, cases of harassment often go unreported and problems continue.

Below is a discussion on three things that every employee needs to know about sexual harassment at work.

It's Not All About Sexual Advances

Contrary to what many employees think, sexual harassment does not necessarily have to involve unsolicited sexual advances or a demand for sexual favours.

For example, an employer who gives preferential treatment to female employees during appraisals can be sued for harassment by the male employees, regardless of whether there's a sexual relationship between him and the female employees. Your supervisor might also favour a female employee with whom he has a sexual relationship, prompting him to delegate most of her work-related duties to you. You can sue the supervisor for harassment despite the fact that he hasn't made any sexual advances on you.

Lastly, offensive or degrading sexual remarks made by fellow employees about you are also a form of sexual harassment. This is because such remarks are deemed to create a hostile work environment.

You Won't Have To Pay For A Lawyer In A Sexual Harassment Case

Employees who've been harassed sexually might choose not to take legal action against the offender because they can't afford to hire a compensation lawyer. You should know that you won't have to pay for a lawyer if you've been harassed. More often than not, lawyers who represent victims of harassment are paid on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer only gets paid if the case is won. If you win the case, the lawyer's fees will be paid by the employer. 

A Law Suit Might Deter Future Harassment

Taking your supervisor or employer to court is likely to deter the practice of harassment in the workplace. In many cases, employers are ordered to pay punitive damages in addition to the compensation paid to victims of harassment and the cost of legal services offered to the victim. Punitive damages are meant to punish the employer for condoning sexual harassment at the workplace. Even if you were harassed by a fellow employee, your employer might still have to pay the punitive damages. This should prompt the employer to take decisive steps that will deter similar occurrences in future.


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