Every day, employees are subjected to unwanted sexual harassment in the workplace. There are many different types of sexual harassment ranging from unwanted sexual advances to requests for sexual favors. Exposure to sexual harassment can also lead to a hostile work environment that makes it difficult or impossible for employees to work in a safe environment.
Fighting for the Rights of Cincinnati Employees
If you have been subjected to a hostile work environment in Cincinnati or the surrounding area, HKM Employment Attorneys are prepared to fight for you. Employees have the right to be free from sexual harassment and go to work in a safe environment. You may have a valid legal claim against your employer for sexual harassment. Additionally, if your employer has taken adverse action against you for filing a claim related to sexual harassment, you may have a right to pursue a claim for unlawful retaliation.
Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment is a broad term that can describe multiple behaviors that lead to discomfort, an unsafe working environment, and difficulty staying productive in the workplace. There are two main legal categories of unlawful sexual harassment under federal and state employment laws: quid pro quo sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a manager or coworker requesting a sexual favor in exchange for a workplace benefit. Alternatively, quid pro quo sexual harassment could involve a manager threatening to take an adverse employment action against an employee for refusing a sexual request. The classic example of quid pro quo sexual harassment would be a manager telling an employee to sleep with them or be fired.
If the employee refuses and the manager fires the employee, the employee would have a valid legal claim against their employer. Sometimes quid pro quo sexual harassment is more subtle than that and could include an employee receiving worse job assignments or not being promoted because they rejected unwelcome sexual advances.
Hostile Work Environment
The second category of unlawful sexual harassment is called hostile work environment harassment. A hostile work environment can occur when unwelcome sexual comments or other sexual conduct makes the work environment so hostile that the average employee would not be able to be expected to work there reasonably. A hostile work environment occurs when harassment unreasonably interferes with an employee’s ability to do their job. It can also involve an environment that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive working environment. Some common examples of conduct that can lead to a hostile work environment include the following:
- Offensive sexual slurs, jokes, epithets, or name-calling
- Sexual remarks about a person’s clothes or physical appearance
- Discussion of sexual activity or asking another person questions about their sexual activity
- Groping, touching, and sexual assault
- Mockery, ridicule, or intimidation of a sexual nature
- Showing offensive pictures or objects, such as pornography
The conduct must be severe or pervasive to prove that a hostile work environment exists. However, an isolated incident that is severe could rise to the level of a hostile work environment.
Remote Workers Can Also Experience Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Many employees are working from home now. Unfortunately, remote workers are not always safe from sexual harassment. There are many ways they can be exposed to sexual harassment while working from home. Sexually explicit messages, video chats, and emails can create a hostile work environment.
Proving a Sexual Harassment Claim in Ohio
Not every sexually inappropriate action or behavior rises to unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace. Instead, employees must prove several legal elements to succeed in a sexual harassment claim. In other words, to recover compensation, employees will need to prove that the employer is liable under state or federal anti-discrimination laws. Working with an attorney can help you gather evidence and prepare your case. When the person doing the sexual harassment is a supervisor, employer liability will depend on the type of harassment involved.
Suppose the harassment resulted in termination, the failure to promote, or another adverse decision that caused a significant change in the employee’s responsibilities or benefits. In that case, the employer will be automatically liable, assuming the employee proves the elements of sexual harassment. However, if the harassment involves a hostile work environment, the employer can provide an affirmative defense and avoid liability.
Suppose the employer can prove that they exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct harassing behavior and that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any employer anti-harassment policies. In that case, they may be able to avoid liability. At HKM Employment Attorneys, we have an in-depth understanding of state and federal sexual harassment laws. We will work diligently to prove your case and obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
Damages Available in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Being subjected to sexual harassment can have a devastating impact on an employee’s finances and mental health. Sexual harassment victims can pursue several types of remedies, including front pay, back pay, and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the harassment. Employees can also recover damages for pain and suffering for their emotional distress. Under Ohio and federal law, employees can pursue additional punitive damages against their employers when the employers engage in malicious conduct. Successful claimants can pursue attorneys’ fees and costs as well.
Our Cincinnati Sexual Harassment Attorneys
At HKM Employment Attorneys, our compassionate attorneys understand how difficult it can be to report sexual harassment and bring a claim against an employer. Many victims are concerned that they will lose their job or be demoted for reporting sexual harassment.
When you work with HKM Employment Attorneys, you can rest assured that we will protect your rights throughout the process and handle every aspect of your case. We have helped countless Cincinnati area employees who face and overcome sexual harassment recover the compensation they need and deserve. You are not alone. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys today to schedule a case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights.