The national awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace continues to grow. It affects people across all industries — from the tech world to manufacturing and many workplaces in between. Are you wondering what to do if you’re being sexually harassed at work?
There are different laws and best practices to report sexual harassment across the states, and Florida is no exception. It is important to know not only the different actions that constitute sexual harassment but also what you can do about — and who can help. The attorneys at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., have the experience and credentials to fight for your legal rights, representing employees against powerful employers across Florida.
What Can Constitute Sexual Harassment?
The actions that constitute sexual harassment include a wide variety of behaviors: from the most egregious and overt to lesser-known actions. These behaviors can come from a supervisor, a co-worker, or even a customer. These actions can include:
- Sexual comments or leering looks
- Sexual propositions or repeated requests for dates
- Obscene jokes, sexual innuendos or dirty pictures
- Inappropriate touching or “violating your space”
- Implied threats about your employment status
- Comments about your body or your clothing
Whether there is ongoing harassment, or a wrongful termination occurred as retaliation from a report of sexual harassment, our firm handles all types of Title VII employment discrimination claims. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. The behavior does not have to be sexual in nature. You may have a claim if you can show you were treated poorly because of gender (or the opposite sex received favoritism).
Types of Sexual Harassment
As per the State of Florida official sexual harassment awareness training, there are two types of sexual harassment. The first is Quid Pro Quo that “occurs when the harasser is in a position of authority and uses that authority to seek sexual favors for job conditions or benefits, such as hiring, promotion, favorable performance evaluations, no discipline, pay raises or other privileges.” Sexual favors may either be stated directly or implied.
The second type is behavior that produces a hostile work environment. This is stated as follows: “occurs when the harasser exhibits hostile misconduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating or offensive work environment.” The harasser does not have to be your direct boss or others in a position of authority.
The Law in Florida
The Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex or marital status. Sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful sex discrimination. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that pregnancy discrimination is also included within the parameters of employment discrimination based on sex.
The Florida Civil Rights Act covers private and public employers with 15 employees or more. Public employers and public accommodation (760.08) encompass everything from inns and motels, retail establishments, theatres, sports arenas and more.
How We Can Help
As in many legal actions, the laws are complex. That is why it is very important to have an experienced professional that specializes in employment law and sexual harassment in the workplace. Our employment law attorneys help you determine if you have a valid claim against your employer.
There are a number of steps to take, and it is important to perform things in the right order and within the appropriate time frames. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you have the right to instruct the harasser to stop the unwelcome behavior immediately. You also have the right to report it to any supervisor within your company or organization.
Other actions that will need to be taken include (1) reporting a complaint to the Florida Commission on Human Relations within 365 calendar days of the alleged incident and/or (2) reporting a complaint to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 calendar days of the alleged incident.
We know that this is a difficult and stressful time. Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., is here to advocate for your rights and make sure all of the processes and procedures are performed correctly and within the appropriate time frames.
What You May Be Entitled To
Attorneys work hard to advocate for your rights to the full extent of the law. Did you know that there are a number of potential options/remedies you have if your claim is proven within the legal system? If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you may receive:
- Compensatory damages
- Reinstatement to your job with all pay and benefits
- Back pay from date of termination to the settlement or verdict
- Emotional damages for psychological suffering and damage to reputation
- “Front pay” damages of what you would have earned had you continued there
- Punitive damages, if the behavior was especially egregious, or if there are similar claims and settlements.
The outcome of your case will be dependent on the circumstances. Some people just want the behavior to stop, others want their job back after termination, and still, others may be entitled to compensatory or punitive damages depending on the extent of the behavior inflicted on the person.
Contact Us Today
Sexual harassment is not only wrong — it is illegal. Your rights matter and we are here to help. We are dedicated to tackling workplace issues that affect you and your family.
Don’t do this alone. Legal counsel with experience in fighting sexual harassment in the workplace is highly recommended to ensure your rights are enforced to the full extent of the law. We’re the employee’s law firm— a tireless legal team fighting for your rights.
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, call the Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. office today to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.