How do you respond when a coworker or your supervisor keeps making sexually-charged comments about you or cannot seem to be able to keep their hands to themselves? Do you put on a brave face, trying to make it look like nothing happened? Do you let it slide although this behavior makes you uncomfortable to the point that you dread coming in for work every morning? Why would you do that to yourself? Why don’t you talk to a good lawyer?
The West Virginia Human Rights Act clearly prohibits any type of workplace discrimination based on sex. This includes everything from being denied a job because of your sex or being fired because you got pregnant to sexual harassment. Although the vast majority of sexual harassment complaints are made by women, men can also be harassed, and, according to the law, the one doing the harassing doesn’t have to be of the opposite sex. Same sex harassment is just as bad.
When you decide you’ve had enough and reach out to sexual harassment lawyers they’ll want to know the whole story – when did it start, who’s bothering you and in what ways?
If it’s a boss asking you for sexual favors that’s obviously sexual harassment if they suggest that by accepting their advances you could get a raise or other perks.
At the same time, if you are being harassed by one or more of your coworkers, that amounts to a hostile work environment.
However, you need to keep in mind that one isolated incident does not constitute sexual harassment, unless it’s something very serious, verging on sexual assault.
For instance, if a guy at work asks you out on a date, it is not sexual harassment if you refuse and they understand you’re not interested. At the same time, if a guy hits on you and puts a hand on your shoulder and you make it clear their overtures are not welcome, you cannot claim you were harassed if they back off.
On the other hand, well-versed employment lawyers will tell you that you have a good case if you are frequently targeted by sexually-charged comments, lewd jokes or specific questions about your sexual life.
Whatever the circumstances, you need to voice your objection to their unwanted attention and let them know you find their behavior offensive. In a male-dominated workplace, that won’t help much, so you’ll have to take your grievances to your employer.
West Virginia sexual harassment lawyers will instruct you to file a complaint with the HR. Many victims bulk at the idea, as they don’t want to go public with their problems. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Or afraid.
When you make a sexual harassment claim, the law protects you against retaliation. If you’re labeled as a trouble-maker and terminated, then so be it. You are fully entitled to make a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and you will be compensated for all your suffering. You can recover lost wages and your legal fees, so it will be your employer who ends up paying your lawyer, which is pretty neat.