What does it take to find justice when you’re harassed and discriminated against in the workplace? It takes a lawyer with good knowledge of state and federal laws, and it takes guts. Lawyers have guts, it’s you who needs to summon the courage to stand up and confront your tormentors.
Wyoming is among the first states to pass a law prohibiting sexual discrimination in the workplace. That’s the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965, just one year after the federal Civil Rights Act was adopted. Sexual harassment is fully covered under both acts, which apply to private and public employers with at least two employees.
Sexual harassment is also well defined, as any skilled employment lawyers will tell you.
First of all, you have the quid pro quo cases. Or ‘this for that’. This refers to those cases when a direct supervisor or someone from management level, including the business owner, asks you for sexual favors. They might play nice and offer you a reward, like a raise or promotion, if you accept. Or they might be more brutal and imply that non-compliance might lead to you being fired, demoted or assigned to one of the worst positions in the company.
Either way, this is illegal. You should make a complaint with the HR department, even if you know it won’t solve anything. Sexual harassment lawyers advise their clients not to skip this step as it can be used to show you acted in good faith. On the other hand, if you don’t file an internal complaint, later on your employer might argue they had no idea your supervisor was harassing you. They’ll say you didn’t offer them a chance to make things right. There have been legal precedents in Wyoming when a lawsuit was dismissed because the judge decided the plaintiff failed to take advantage of the corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
You should do the same when you’re the victim of a hostile work environment. In this case, it’s not a supervisor that’s harassing you, but one or more of your coworkers. All kinds of verbal communications with a sexual overtone (comments, jokes, questions) amount to sexual harassment. If you’re targeted because of your sex, you have the right to complain even if those tormenting you were not trying to pressure you into sex. Also, any form of unwanted touching constitutes sexual harassment. By the way, make sure to let them know their behavior is offensive to you. If you don’t, the perpetrators might claim it was only a joke and they thought you enjoyed it. That’s a very common defense strategy in such cases.
If your complaints with the HR go unheard, Wyoming sexual harassment lawyers will help you with a state or federal complaint. In most cases, it is enough to complain to the Labor Standards Division of the Wyoming Department of Employment (WLSD). They have a work-sharing agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, so there’s no need for you to file a federal complaint as well. Your attorneys will assist you during this stage and advise you on what type of damages you should ask for.