Posted by Tamara
West Virginia employers who fail to understand the federal sexual harassment laws do so at their own risk.
If an employer fails to act on a possible sexual harassment incident, his or her company could face millions of dollars in damages.
When a worker feels as if he or she has been sexually harassed and gets no support from management, the employee’s next step is to take the matter to the federal EEOC. The EEOC will launch an investigation and, if there appears to be evidence to warrant it, the agency will then initiate a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf.
Note, for example, that in the previous paragraph the worker who was harassed was described as “he or she.”
Sexual harassment need not only involve harassment of a female by a male. It could be a female harassing a male, it may be a male harassing another male, or it may be a female harassing a female. Complaints by male employees involving sexual harassment by men or women is increasing.
It need not involve a supervisor and an employee either. The common misconception is that sexual harassment only occurs when a supervisor threatens an employee with job-loss if he or she fails to comply with a sexual advance, or when a supervisor trades sexual favors for job-favors.
That is a form of sexual harassment, but only one form. It is called “quid pro quo.”
Any repeated unwelcome sexual advances or overtures in the workplace are sexual harassment, however.
If, to take a hypothetical example, Tom is asked out by his coworker Marina and says “no,” and Marina asks him out again five times in a row, that could be construed as sexual harassment. Tom has already made it clear that the advances are unwelcome. If an employer allows Marina to continue in her behavior, the company could be paying out some substantial damages.
Dirty jokes may be sexual harassment. If one worker leers at another and says “I really like looking at you in that tight shirt,” or even “You really look good in that shirt,” that could be sexual harassment.
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