Has someone made sexual advances toward you at work? What should you do? What are your legal options? Should you go to human resources? Should you contact a sexual harassment lawyer?
Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature may constitute sexual harassment when:
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment (quid pro quo);
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used or is threatened to be used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or;
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with any individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment (hostile work environment).
Sexual Advances – What Should You Do?
The first thing you should do is to contact an accomplished employment lawyer. If you can’t do so quickly, here are two important steps the employee should follow:
- Politely object to the harassment, and
- Politely report the harassment in writing to a supervisor above the harasser. It is always best practice to keep a copy of this complaint.
You cannot sue for sexual harassment by a colleague if the employer didn’t know or didn’t have any reason to know the harassment was taking place. Therefore you need to object to the harassment and report the harasser in writing. You may send an email to HR or to your supervisor. The main trick here is to write everything down (date everything). After you do this, call a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you are the victim of sex harassment at work, you should contact a harassment attorney right away to learn about your rights. If the harassment is something other than sexual, such as disability or age harassment, visit our main hostile work environment page.
Who is Liable for these Unwanted Advances At Work?
If your supervisor make sexual advances toward you, the company is automatically liable. A sexual advance by a co-worker may lead to employer liability if the company knew or should have known the harassment was taking place. Harassment must also be workplace related. It is related even if the sexual acts or advance occurred outside of work.
For example, in one case, the rape of a female flight attendant by a male flight attendant in a hotel room the airline provided during a layover led to liability for the employer. In another case, a boss’s statutory rape of a employee occurred at his apartment. It was still workplace related sexual harassment because their relationship began with flirtatious talk and erotic touching while at work. The sexual act need not be committed in the workplace to have employment law consequences.