Three former employees of an Orlando O’Reilly Auto Parts store were awarded $165,000 in damages following a sexual harassment lawsuit. The three women accused one manager of repeatedly making coarse sexual remarks and touching them in an inappropriate manner. One of the women stated that the store manager grabbed her crotch and pinned her against a table. The situation in the store was so bad that even shocked customers called the store’s corporate office to complain of what they’ve witnessed.
This is a textbook case of sexual harassment and if you’re in a similar situation you need to follow these brave women’s example and take action. First, you’ll need to speak to a lawyer with many years of practice in this area.
You need an attorney as you must follow the correct procedures and you also have to build a strong case against your employer or the coworkers that are harassing you.
Experienced sexual harassment lawyers will explain what are the steps you must take before you can file a lawsuit.
The first step is consulting your employee handbook, which should include provisions for sexual harassment complaints. If your company did not provide you with such a handbook, you’ll have to take the matter to the Human Resources department. If there’s a pervasive sexual harassment situation in the company that is tolerated by the management, the HR won’t probably be able to help you. Employment lawyers will, and the sooner you talk to them, the better.
They will assist you in filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and/or the Florida Commission on Human Relations. Often enough, such complaints are resolved through mediation.
However, you will have to present a solid case when you get before the EEOC and this means bringing ample proof of the sexual harassment you were subjected to.
To do that, you need to understand what constitutes sexual harassment in the eyes of the law.
One type of sexual harassment refers to your coworkers creating a hostile work environment. Using crude language, making lewd remarks or jokes of a sexual nature is one example of a hostile work environment. Being humiliated by your colleagues’ jokes is bad enough, but many female employees often have to endure much worse, just as in the story of the Orlando O’Reilly Auto Parts.
At the same time, if a direct supervisor or managers is soliciting sexual favors, threatening you with termination or making your life miserable, this is what legal experts call a quid pro quo sexual harassment case.
Seasoned Florida sexual harassment lawyers can help you document the abuse you were subjected to. In cases like these, finding proof to corroborate your claims can be difficult, as few people are as stupid as the O’Reilly store manager as to harass employees in front of the customers. However, you might find workmates willing to testify on your behalf, describing the incidents they’ve witnessed or sharing their own story of abuse.
You can use their testimony during the mediation process. Your attorneys will advise you on what damages you should seek. If EEOC mediation is not enough to reach an agreement, then it’s time to take the matter to court.