Over and above all other facts, sexual harassment is illegal. Individuals who subject others to mistreatment based on sex, as well as the organizations that permit such harassment to occur, can and should be held accountable. Working with an experienced Columbus Ohio sexual harassment attorney can help make that happen.
A survey of Cosmopolitan readers in 2016 revealed than one-third of women had experienced sexual harassment at work. As high as that estimate might look, it probably understates the problem. The survey only dealt with harassment of female workers, leaving out incidents in educational and other settings.
Workplace sexual harassment is a useful way to conceptualize mistreatment based on sex, however, because the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) keeps good records of sexual harassment reports. With slight variations from year-to-year, the EEOC logged about 12,500 sexual harassment complaints each from 2010 to 2016. A note on the website listing these statistics states, “This does not include charges filed with state or local fair employment practices agencies.”
Turning again to the EEOC:
“Sexual harassment” [can include] unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Asked to provides examples of behaviors that meet that basic definition, the Ohio State Bar Association put together the following list of things that can be considered sexual harassment:
To be legally actionable, the harassment must be “severe or pervasive.” Speaking with a Columbus sexual harassment lawyer will help the victim understand if he or she has a case.
While the “typical” harassment victim is pictured as young women with an office or blue-collar job, 16 percent of the people who filed sexual harassment claims with the EEOC in 2016 are men. Victims can be any age, and harassment can occur in practically any setting with more than one person.
Harassers can be managers, co-workers, teachers, fellow students, employees of companies that victims visit, and acquaintances. A particularly prevalent and pernicious form of sexual harassment involves young men mistreating other men they suspect of being gay.
Three federal laws specifically protect people from sexual harassment in Ohio. These are:
Title IX also provides powerful legal tools to victims of sexual assault, especially while they are college students. The provisions of the PDA have been interpreted to provide some protections to new fathers who have childcare responsibilities.
At the state level, provisions of the Ohio Civil Rights Act offer many of the same protections as Title VII, Title IX, and the PDA.
The steps a victim needs to take to put a stop to sexual harassment and, possibly, receive monetary and punitive damages from the perpetrator vary from case to case. Different procedures exist under Title VII for workplace harassment and Title IX for school-based harassment, for instance. Also, each employer and educational institution likely has its own policies for responding to alleged instances of sexual harassment. Failing to follow all the steps laid out for reporting and resolving problems before filing a lawsuit can make it impossible for the victim to receive justice.
Partnering with a dedicated Columbus sexual harassment lawyer will help a mistreated woman, man, or student identify and comply with each requirement to report and resolve claims. You can schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Columbus sexual harassment attorney by calling the Columbus, Ohio, offices of the Calig Law Firm at 614-252-2300. You can also set up an appointment and share some of your story by filling out this online contact form.