The recent “MeToo” movement has ignited a renewed focus on the laws that protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Hollywood stars and producers, congressmen, senators, and powerful world leaders have recently been unseated in a multitude of lawsuits claiming sexual harassment and abuse.
The Pittsburgh employment lawyers at AlpernShubert P.C. are dedicated to helping victims of sexual harassment claim the justice and compensation they deserve. The team of experienced and highly skilled sexual harassment lawyers at the firm has a long history of successful claims against those that violate the civil rights of their clients. They use their knowledge of federal and state laws with their experience in aggressive litigation to get the results that matter.
State and Federal Laws Against Sexual Harassment
Federal protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has enabled countless individuals to reveal and seek justice for the violation of their civil rights. Title VII affords protection against discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, age, pregnancy, disability, or sex, including sexual orientation and gender identification. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination because the victim’s work is impacted by the hostile environment created by the negative actions of colleagues and supervisors.
Employers that are aware of sexual harassment in the workplace are legally obligated to correct the situation. Failure to do so is in direct violation of state and federal law and is punishable by fines and lawsuits that award significant financial recovery to victims. Employers are responsible to properly train their employees to recognize behaviors that constitute sexual harassment, and to educate them on how to properly report such behavior.
Employees are also protected from sexual discrimination and harassment under Pennsylvania state law. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance (PFPO) are state laws that prohibit sexual discrimination and harassment. Pennsylvania takes sexual harassment and discrimination claims seriously and holds violators liable for their actions.
Defining Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment occurs when an employee experiences unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors in return for employment promotion or benefits, verbal or written comments of a sexual nature, unwanted or unsolicited physical contact, and any behavior of a sexual nature that is offensive to the individual.
When sexual harassment happens, the victim’s work performance can suffer. A hostile work environment can prohibit the victim from carrying out their duties and can also limit their potential for advancement.
While many cases of sexual harassment are reported by women, men can be victims too. The person responsible for the sexual harassment can be the victim’s employer, supervisor, immediate manager, or colleague. Even non-employees can be guilty of sexual harassment, such as vendors, contractors, and service people that visit the work facility. In some cases, sexual harassment has been reported by those who witness the offensive or sexually explicit actions of another.
Reporting Sexual Harassment
There are several steps that a victim of sexual harassment should follow to end the injustice. In any type of litigation or formal proceeding, the victim must show that the sexual harassment has continued despite their efforts to put a stop to the behavior. Victims should always first tell the violator that that their behaviors are offensive and unwelcome. Victims can do this verbally, or in written form.
The next step is to report the actions to the employer, either directly to their supervisor, or through the employer’s human resources department. Once the employer has a formal complaint, they are obligated to investigate the claim and end the unlawful behaviors. If they fail to do so, they are in direct violation of state and federal laws.
The burden of proof that sexual harassment has taken place unfortunately falls on the victim. Keeping detailed records of all attempts to rectify the situation and providing evidence that the harassment and hostile work environment directly affected the victim’s job performance are vital. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer can help victims gather the pertinent evidence needed to prove claims of sexual harassment.
Federal laws also protect victims from retaliation by employers or colleagues when they report sexual harassment. It is unlawful for an employer to demote, terminate, or refuse promotion to an employee in retaliation for their claims of sexual harassment. Colleagues are also prohibited from any form of retaliation, such as verbal insults, physical contact, or threats of physical harm.
Pittsburgh Employment Discrimination Lawyers at AlpernShubert P.C. Advocate for Victims of Sexual Harassment
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the experienced Pittsburgh employment discrimination lawyers at AlpernShubert P.C. can help you claim the justice and compensation you deserve. Call us at 412-765-1888 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our office is in Pittsburgh and we serve clients in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and throughout Western Pennsylvania.