Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Greenville, SC
Things You Should Know about Sexual Harassment in Greenville, SC
Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is still prevalent, despite your rights being protected under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits such discrimination. It occurs in all areas of the country, even Greenville County. So, if you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment, or have been witnessing it happen where you work, there are ten things to know–from what it is to what you should do about it. If you have any doubts whether your rights have been violated, contacting a sexual harassment lawyer in Greenville, SC will help determine what to do next.
The Definition of Sexual Harassment in Greenville, SC
According to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment in the workplace is an act of unwelcome or unwanted behavior that is so “severe” or “pervasive,” that it affects your job or workplace. This harassment could be between peers, a supervisor to an employee, or even involve a 3rd party, such as a vendor or customer.
The key word above is “unwanted” or “unwelcome.” The act needs to be non-consensual between 2 adults. A consensual relationship, regardless if it’s offensive to others, is not against the law. It could be against company policy and result in termination. But, it does not make a case for sexual harassment in the workplace.
The “act” could be a sexual advance, proposition, sexually offensive joke or comment, or even a derogatory comment towards a gender. To be considered a hostile environment though, it requires that the behavior is severe or repetitive.
Office Banter and Sexual Harassment
Does fun office banter ever cross the line into sexual Harassment in Greenville, SC? Yes, it does. However, a basic complement or comment on a person’s appearance by a fellow employee or supervisor typically does not equate to sexual harassment. Nor does asking someone out on a date.
An example of when it crosses the line is when it turns into multiple comments about a person’s appearance, especially if it is accompanied with any physical and inappropriate touching. Other examples can be when asking someone out on a date turns into excessive texting in an offensive manner, showing up unexpected at their home, or not taking “no” for an answer.
Sexual harassment in the workplace, even though it happens everywhere and often, is one of those things that often comes as a shock when it happens. Most people are ill-prepared and thrown off. As a result, it goes unreported, is handled inappropriately, or the victim runs out of time to do anything about it. Once an incident occurs, the person being harassed has 180 days to report it, or it’s too late.
Title VII Rules Over Employment Handbook
Even though you should always be on top of the company’s employee handbook, what is written in it doesn’t always rule. For example, the company might say something that goes against federal law. Or, the way it’s worded in the handbook might not read similar to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which could lead to confusion as to what the law is and how to interpret it.
At times, the employee handbook might be stricter than the law. In that case, the act in question might lead to someone losing their job. But, winning in a court would be difficult if a law hasn’t been broken.
An example of a company’s policy being stricter than the law would be if an employee or supervisor asks another employee or supervisor out on a date, yet it’s against company policy to date within the company. Even if the person being asked out is offended, they won’t have a legal sexual harassment case in court. But, they also might find that the person doing the asking for a date could be let go, or transferred to another position.
It could get confusing to know the difference between company policy and the law. Trusting your gut is important, but so is consulting with someone who knows sexual harassment law and can guide you in the right direction on whether you have a legal case and if it should be pursued legally, or go through the company’s internal investigation.
David Price is an experienced attorney in Greenville who specializes in sexual harassment in the workplace. He will be able to help assess the situation and determine the company’s policy or law, and where to go with that information.
Speaking Up Is a Crucial Step to Take
One of the first things you should do if you feel that you are being sexually harassment in the workplace is to speak up. If there is someone in the workplace that has made or is continuing to make you feel uncomfortable with their words or actions, tell them about your discomfort. However, not everyone feels comfortable or safe, in talking to the person that is intimidating them. And, that’s understandable. It will most likely be awkward, but could also be beneficial in the end. It’s possible that the person making you feel uncomfortable is completely unaware of the impact that their words or actions are having on you.
On the other hand, it could also easily be that the offender doesn’t feel what they are doing is wrong, even if it’s pointed out to them. So, it’s best to get any communication you have with the offender, or anyone else involved, in writing. Having a paper trail is easy to fall back on if denials come up later. And, email is perhaps the best form of communication in this type of situation, because you can quickly access it at a later date, if necessary.
It’s Not Necessary to Report Sexual Harassment to Your Supervisor
Many people are on the assumption that they must report it to their boss. That isn’t true though. For one, they could be the one that is doing the harassing. Or, you might know they are exceptionally close to the person who is acting in an inappropriate.
Many companies will have it written in the employee handbook whom you should speak with, and other options, if you are not comfortable speaking with the offender, for whatever reason.
A company should have written policies on how they handle sexual harassment in the workplace. If the company you work for does not a written policy, speak to your boss or HR department to see if they have something in place. Ask them what the company policy is because if they don’t have one written down, they should at least have one. If a policy is in place, ask them to put it in writing. In fact, do this communicating in writing, such as email. This will give you backup, should something happen.
Employers Should Remain Unbiased
Employers and bosses need to remain unbiased and impartial towards you, the accused harasser and the company in general. If you bring a sexual harassment complaint to their attention, they might ask if you feel they can be impartial and unbiased. It’s important to let them know if you do, or not.
They will probably ask things such as:
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- Has it happened more than once?
- Who was involved?
- Are there any witnesses?
You should also expect that they will interview everyone involved, and look into their backgrounds, including yours. And, they should, if they are investigating in an unbiased manner. This investigation could include looking into your employee records and emails, so be prepared.
Be Prepared for Any Outcome
You should be prepared for an outcome that could go either way, no matter how strong your sexual harassment case is because it also depends on the parties involved, not just the evidence. An employer, the HR department, and anyone else involved should be unbiased. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Knowing this, it would then make sense to speak with a Greenville sexual harassment lawyer who knows all about getting around biased opinions and how to handle them in court or settlements.
Employees are often sitting on their fears and discomfort because they are unsure what will happen after filing a complaint, and rightly so. They believe they won’t be taken seriously, or if their complaint is tossed out, that their work environment might become worse for them. Your employer might ask what consequences as a result of bringing this to their attention. Be honest. They can’t read your mind. If they want what’s best for everyone, they need to know everything, including what your desired outcome is for this situation.
Also, be prepared that the accused harasser might continue to work right by your side after the case is over. The offender might just receive a warning, rather than a transfer or be fired, depending on the severity of the act, how many times it had occurred, and if there is a history of this behavior from the offender.
The sexual harassment investigation might come up inconclusive, and nothing is done. Don’t let that discourage you though. Continue to keep track of all communication and any harassment that occurs in the future, if it does. Sometimes, even with an inconclusive decision, that might be enough for an accused harasser to stop their inappropriate actions.
Options for Results Less than Satisfactory with a Sexual Harassment Case
It’s possible that your sexual harassment case was investigated through an internal system, and the results were not up to your satisfaction. For example, maybe the company’s investigation stated that the evidence was inconclusive, or that the person just needed a warning. If you are not happy with that result, there are other options you can take.
The first thing you should do is contact a Greenville attorney who knows sexual harassment laws. They will want to see all the documentation you have regarding the case, as well as hear your side. At that point, they can determine if the outcome was reasonable, or if you have a case that should be pursued further.
Ideally, it would be best to speak with a sexual harassment lawyer before the case even goes to the internal investigation stages. The presence of having an attorney will go a long way in how serious they take the allegations.
This Can Happen to Any Gender
It’s a fallacy that sexual harassment only happens to women. While it might not be as common, men are also sexually harassed in the workplace. According to the EEOC, the data shows that approximately 16% of sexual harassment complaints are from men.
Harassment can be from men, women, to the opposite gender, or the same. There is no discrimination in discrimination.
Will a Sexual Harasser in Greenville Get a Second Chance?
One of the fears of coming forward with a sexual harassment complaint is that the person who is being harassed will have to face, and possibly continue to work with the person they are already uncomfortable with before the complaint is filed. Will they be given a second chance?
It will all depend on the individual case, people involved, the severity of the allegations and the evidence presented. But, it’s entirely possible, yes. Even if they are found guilty of the harassment, they might be given an opportunity at redemption. They might be transferred, or working right next to you. But, the company has the right to give them one more chance.
However, if there is a repeat offense, the law does require that the harasser is terminated.
The best advice you could receive, if you believe you have been sexually harassed is to consult with an attorney. David Price is an experienced sexual harassment lawyer conveniently located in Greenville, SC who will guide you in the right direction and fight for your rights.