All employees in the United States have a right to a safe workplace, free of discrimination based on protected traits, and this includes sex or sexual orientation. The state of Rhode Island takes such matters seriously and has strict rules prohibiting sexual harassment. The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights issued a comprehensive guide to combating sexual harassment back in 1997, but such cases still exist in the state. If you don’t know what the law says and what are your rights as an employee you should contact a lawyer.
According to state law, all employers are encouraged to have a clear policy dealing with sexual harassment, and all their employees should be made aware of it. This policy should include examples of what constitutes sexual harassment and should spell out the consequences those who engage in such conduct will have to face. At the same time, the policy should include a standard procedure for reporting sexual harassment.
If the company you work for does not have such a policy, this is something seasoned sexual harassment lawyers will be most interested to hear, as that’s against the law.
When you talk to an attorney, they’ll also want to know what sort of sexual harassment you’re experiencing. There are two main types of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The first type refers to a hostile work environment, when one or more colleagues are using sexually-suggestive language trying to humiliate you. If you receive indecent messages of any kind, make sure to save them all as they can be used as evidence. Inappropriate touching is also illegal. Experienced employment lawyers will advise to talk to your employer before taking any legal action. An employer has to be offered a chance to address your complaint and take steps to punish those responsible. Their findings and decisions should be communicated to the plaintiff in writing.
If you don’t get any answer, they can be held accountable for failing to provide a safe work environment.
The second type of sexual harassment refers to situations where an employee is harassed by a supervisor, trying to pressure them into sex. When they make it clear that failure to submit to their overtures can result in your termination, you have a very good case against them.
Rhode Island sexual harassment lawyers will encourage you to make a formal complaint with either state of federal civil rights agencies. They’ll also help you prepare all the evidence needed to support your claims. If there are workmates willing to support you, they may be called to testify. They don’t need to be afraid of the consequences. The law is very clear on that. An employer cannot and should not retaliate against an employee supporting and helping with a sexual harassment claim. They might still do that, but the employee will probably have an easy time proving their rights were infringed upon and win compensation.
When a sexual harassment complaint goes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission they will investigate the matter, negotiate a settlement to compensate the victim, or they might decide to sue on behalf of the plaintiff if an agreement cannot be reached.