Most people agree that sexual harassment in the workplace is totally unacceptable in today’s world. Yet, many employees, male or female, still find themselves subjected to this type of demeaning treatment. One of the main problems victims are faced with is that taking a stand requires a lot of courage and proving that you were wronged can be difficult, particularly in a state like Mississippi, one of the few American states that do not have a specific law prohibiting sexual harassment.
However, Mississippi employees who feel that they are discriminated based on sex should get in touch with a good lawyer. Even if Mississippi doesn’t have a sexual harassment law, your rights are still protected under federal law, namely Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sexual harassment is clearly defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.“ According to the EEOC, there are two types of sexual harassment cases, depending on who’s responsible for it.
If it’s a supervisor or anyone from management level and they’re asking for sexual favors in return for a promotion or under the threat of firing you, that’s a quid pro quo case. Some people might be very blunt in their approach and ask you to have sex with them directly, while others might use suggestive language and make sexual overtures to determine you to comply. Both approaches qualify as sexual harassment and you should talk to some experienced employment lawyers specializing in this area.
On the other hand, when it’s some colleague that’s harassing you that falls under hostile work environment. Under the law, the sexual harassment incidents need to be of a pervasive nature to amount to a hostile environment. Any type of verbal communication of a sexual nature (jokes, lewd remarks or comments) can be used as proof. Also, unwelcome touching is considered harassment.
However, Mississippi sexual harassment lawyers can help you prove you were harassed even if was just one incident, on condition that it was something very serious. For instance, if someone presses you against a wall, grabs your buttocks or touches you in an inappropriate way, you can file a complaint for sexual harassment, according to a decision of the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
If you find yourself in such a situation and don’t know what to do, seasoned sexual harassment lawyers can explain what are the legal steps you should follow.
First of all, you need to file a complaint with your employer. They are required to investigate and take disciplinary action against those responsible. If they don’t do anything, your attorneys will help you file a complaint directly with the EEOC. The commission can mediate between you and your employer, or even file a lawsuit on your behalf. In some cases, they might decide not to litigate and issue a “notice of right-to-sue”. This means that it’s you who should file a lawsuit and, once again, you’ll need a well-versed attorney.