According to a study conducted in 2019, 38 percent of all women and 14 percent of all men have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. In the entertainment industry, one survey found that 94 percent of women had experienced such harassment. Additionally, more than 85 percent of employees who experience harassment do not make a legal claim, and roughly 70 percent do not make an internal complaint. It can feel like there is no way to effectively fight against sexual harassment in the workplace, but robust legal protections against it do exist. As with sex and gender discrimination, sexual harassment is prohibited by law. It is prohibited by Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which both outlaw unwanted advances, requests for sexual favors, graphic references, and other inappropriate conduct. The Austin sexual harassment lawyers at Wiley Walsh can help you bring a claim for sexual harassment under these laws no matter how many employees your company has.Common Characteristics of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace often appears in the form of a "quid pro quo." This is the archetypal type of sexual harassment, in which a high-ranking employee pressures a lower-ranking employee into sexual acts in exchange for a promotion or for other benefits. They may imply that the employee could see benefits at work in exchange for going on a date or accepting sexual advances. Although "quid pro quo” harassment can sometimes concern major issues such as employment status, it usually deals with minor aspects of employment such as shift changes, vacation time, or raises.
In some sexual harassment cases, it is necessary to show that an adverse action was taken against the employee making the claim. Adverse actions can include losing promotions or job offers, being suspended, reassigned, or demoted, and being terminated. Retaliation against employees who reject coworkers' sexual advances is illegal. Complaining in good faith about sexual harassment is a protected activity. If you have had any of these actions taken against you because you refused to engage in sexual acts with a superior or coworker, your rights may have been violated under the law. Both women and men can be the victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment law does not take into account the sex or gender of either the harasser or victim.
It is now more common for sexual harassment in the workplace to appear in the form of a generalized hostile environment, where there may be no specific demands for sex but the workplace becomes unbearable due to sexualized actions by coworkers. Workers may direct unwelcome sexual advances towards other employees, or simply make sexually charged remarks about them. Inappropriate teasing regarding an employee's personal life is also likely to be considered hostile. The harassment may even be as extreme as inappropriate touching, flashing of other workers, and direct propositions for sex. When a hostile environment exists in the workplace, that company can be found liable for sexual harassment.When Can You Make a Claim?
It is important to note that sexual harassment law is not friendly to employees who walk off the job. It can be difficult to stay at a job where you have experienced sexual harassment, but quitting can negatively affect your ability to make a claim at a later date. Bringing your case to one of our Austin sexual harassment lawyers will help to protect your rights and protect you from retaliation. It's also important to know that both Texas state and federal law require that you file a charge of discrimination with the TWC or EEOC within 300 days. These time limits can be unforgiving, so it's important to talk to an attorney immediately if you have been a victim of sexual harassment. If you have dealt with sexual harassment in your workplace, or you believe you might have a case, please contact us today. You can do so by filling out our contact form or calling our office at (512) 271-5527.