Although sexual harassment can occur to anyone in any industry, low-wage workers are statistically at a greatest risk, with over a quarter of all sexual harassment claims coming from low-wage workers. Workers in the food service, hotel, retail, home care and agricultural sectors are forced to endure exploitative working environments all too often. An estimated 87 and 94 percent of workers who experience sexual harassment in the workplace, do not report it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Sometimes, due to an individual’s circumstance in life, they may be afraid to report the ongoing abuse. If you are facing discriminatory conditions at work, regardless of your immigration status, an employment attorney will be understanding of your needs and can assist you.
What Is Sexual Harassment and How Do You Identify It?
According to the EEOC, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances, repeated requests for sexual favors as well as other verbal and or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace environment. It’s important to remember, sexual harassment isn’t always about sexual behavior or even directed towards a specific individual. For example, shouting negatively harbored comments about women in the workplace could be considered a form of sexual harassment.
Currently, federal and state sexual harassment laws do not cover inappropriate comments. Regardless of the law or regulations, behavior such as this can also be extremely upsetting and have a heavy emotional impact on an individual for life.
Sexual harassment can occur in any circumstances, to anyone. The harasser can identify with any gender and have any number of relationships to the victim, whether they are a direct supervisor, coworker, peer or any other workplace colleague.
How To Identify Sexual Harassment
In order to identify workplace sexual harassment, one must recognize the warning signs to look for. Here are the most frequently reported examples of workplace sexual harassment:
• Setting conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors.
• Requests for sexual favors.
• Verbal harassment of a sexual nature
• Unwelcome sexual advances, touching or physical contact.
• Discussing sexual relations, stories or fantasies in the workplace
• Feeling sexually pressured by a manager or co-worker
• Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself.
• Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails or text messages.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If you’ve been or are currently the victim of workplace sexual harassment, don’t suffer in silence. For some, it may be tempting to simply quit the job and escape the hostile work environment altogether. Some people don’t necessarily have that option. If you’re a single parent who relies on that wage to support your family, quitting might appear to carry worse consequences than not.
An employment law attorney with experience in sexual harassment cases can help to ensure that your rights are protected, and that you get the compensation you deserve for any losses or mental anguish you’ve suffered. If you face any retaliation, such as discrimination, an attorney or legal aid service can guide you through the process of making your discrimination claim and protect you against unlawful actions by your employer as a result. Additionally, if you lack the financial resources necessary to hire a private attorney, you can contact a legal aid service or nonprofit in your area to find you affordable representation.