Workplace sexual harassment is a genderless offense. It can happen to anyone. In fact, according to the latest data by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), while 83.7 percent of all sexual harassment charges are filed by women, 16.3 percent are filed by men.
If you believe you are a victim of sexual intimidation, you may feel uncomfortable or confused. You may also wonder when you should take action under Florida law.
Here’s what you need to know about sexual harassment and what to do if you were affected.
What Constitutes Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Offensive sexual advances can take many forms. Any unwelcome sexual conduct could be considered sexual harassment – especially if it is hostile in nature. Sexual harassment may also be both direct and indirect, which may lead you to wonder whether you are actually a victim of sexual harassment workplace discrimination. Here are common signs of a sexually intimidating work environment.
- If a coworker or superior outright asks for dates or sexual favors.
- If a coworker or superior issues threats – sexual or otherwise.
- If a coworker or superior makes inappropriate or unwanted physical contact – including, but not limited to, hugging or patting.
- If a coworker or superior uses suggestive body language – including, but not limited to, offensive gestures or gazing.
- If a coworker or superior displays or distributes sexual images to you.
- If a coworker or superior makes sexual comments or discusses sexual acts with you – even by way of jokes or innuendos.
- If a coworker or superior spreads gossip about your sexual life or romantic relationships.
In addition to unwanted sexual advances by your fellow employees or employer, you may have a case if your employer repeatedly fails to take action over sexual victimization by a client or customer.
Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination. Sex or gender discrimination is not necessarily characterized by sexually suggestive behavior. You may have experienced sex discrimination if you were treated unequally (i.e. denied a promotion) based on your gender.
When to Act: Sexual Harassment Statute of Limitations
Sexual harassment charges can be pursued under Title VII of Florida state law; however, taking timely action is crucial. There is a statute of limitations or restricted window of time to file a charge. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is important to get familiar with the following timeline:
- Immediately – when you should notify the harasser that his or her behavior is unwanted.
- Shortly After – how long you should wait to follow up with your supervisor or HR department if the sexual harassment does not stop.
- 300 – the maximum number of days Florida state law allows to file an egregious sexual harassment claim with the EEOC.
- 365 – the maximum number of days you allots to file an egregious sexual harassment charge under the under the Florida Civil Rights Act.
Even if you have exceeded the number of days to file a claim, an attorney can help you determine if there are alternative routes for pursuing your claim. A lawyer will also investigate possible wrongful termination claims, as well as any other evidence related to a hostile work environment.
What Should You Do if You Have Been Sexually Harassed at Work?
If you have been sexually harassed or subjected to a hostile work environment due to sex discrimination, documentation is key.
Your accounts may include the dates and times of the incidents; the names of those involved, including any witnesses; written requests for the perpetrator to cease sexual harassment; and any records related to incident escalation to a supervisor or HR.
In some cases, victims of sexual harassment may be wrongfully terminated for reporting offensive behavior. Detailed accounts of the related circumstance are vital under these conditions, as well.
You may be entitled to compensation for emotional damages due to sexual harassment or compensatory damages due to loss of job. Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today and schedule your free consultation.