Unwanted sexual advances in the workplace can impact your ability to work, your psychological state, and even your sense of personal safety. But what is sexual harassment? Who is liable for sexual harassment under Kentucky and Federal law? What can you do if you're a victim?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has defined sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" when such behavior affects an individual's employment or creates an intimidating or offensive workplace environment. Sexual harassment violates both Kentucky and Federal law. Federal and Kentucky courts have recognized at least two types of sexual harassment claims:
- 'Quid Pro Quo' Claims, Employees may have a claim against their workplace when a boss, supervisor, owner, manager or other authority figure within the workplace requests sexual favors in exchange for job benefits such as continued employment, promotions, raises, shift assignment or other conditions of employment.
- Hostile Work Environment Claims, These result from inappropriate behaviors, including speech in the workplace, which offends and intimidate other workers. Frequent evidence in sexual harassment cases based on a hostile work environment included unwanted touching, sexually oriented jokes, and pornography in the workplace.
Victims of sexual harassment are faced with many difficult and complex choices. It can be a difficult decision whether, when, and how to report inappropriate conduct and risk retaliation. Despite intricate federal and state laws that define harassment, identifying and offering proof of sexual harassment can be complicated and may ultimately determine how (or if) an individual pursues their case. Finally, deciding whether to bring your sexual harassment claim through the EEOC, federal court, or state court involves a number of subtle considerations. Retaining an experienced Kentucky employment attorney to handle sexual harassment lawsuits is essential to finding compensation for your injuries, including reinstatement, back pay, damages for emotional distress, implementation of policies and attorney fees.