Maine was the first state in the U.S. to require sexual harassment training, back in 1991. All businesses in the state with 15 or more employees need to provide training to both supervisors and employees on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to quickly address such situations should they occur in their company. Also, Maine employers are encouraged to put in place a clear procedure for reporting such cases, a procedure that all employees should be aware of.
Thirty years later, there are still plenty of sexual cases in the state, even though any type of discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation is clearly prohibited under the Maine Human Rights Act. With all these provisions in place, no employee, man or woman, should have to endure sexual harassment in the workplace. There’s only one way to make it stop and that’s getting in touch with a lawyer who specializes in such cases.
First of all, your lawyer will examine the facts to see if they amount to sexual harassment. According to the law, any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, as well as other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment. There’s one condition, though. You need to prove that this conduct was pervasive enough to cause you significant mental anguish and impact your job performance.
Sexual harassment lawyers can help you prove that your workmates’ crude jokes, sexual innuendos or sexual overtures happened often enough to make it impossible for you to function normally in such a hostile environment. You’ll need to document those incidents as best you can. Keep a journal of all incidents of a sexual nature, take pictures of any offensive images your harasser might display around the office and save every offensive text message, image or video sent to you.
Make a list of those who engage in this type of conduct and of those who did not. Employment lawyers taking up your case will probably want to talk to the latter. Under Maine law, anyone testifying in a sexual harassment lawsuit is protected against retaliation.
In quid pro quo cases, when a supervisor solicits sexual favors from an employee, misconduct might be even harder to prove. Most of these people are smart enough to make sure there are no witnesses when they proposition you for sex. Still, an employee refusing to submit to such outrageous demands can find other ways to prove they were discriminated against because they refused their supervisor’s sexual advances. For instance, if you are overlooked when it comes to a pay raise or a promotion you were entitled to, that can be used to substantiate your claim. Also, if you are forced to quit your job you can explain everything that happened to you in your complaint. Often enough, when one employee decides to fight back against their harassers other coworkers will come forth to tell their own story.
Maine sexual harassment lawyers will guide you through the process of formulating and filing your complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission,which will conduct its own investigation and mediate the dispute. They can award you damages for all you’ve suffered, including lost wages and legal fees.