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Worker & Employee Focused

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination defined by unwelcome sexual conduct which affects the terms and conditions of a person’s employment or which creates a hostile work environment.

Not all offensive conduct rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment. Our attorneys at Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly, PC, will listen to you and help determine if the conduct you have been subjected to meets the legal definition of sexual harassment.

The Legal Definition Of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination defined by unwelcome sexual conduct which affects the terms and conditions of a person’s employment or which creates a hostile work environment.  Not all offensive conduct rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment.

In order for something to be considered sexual harassment under the law, it must be of a sexual nature or be based on hostility because of gender; be unwelcome; be severe or pervasive; and affect the victim’s pay, benefits, work conditions or work environment.

Sexual harassment can include:

  • Sexual propositions accompanied by threats to your job
  • Lewd comments or suggestions
  • Obscene jokes or emails
  • Distributing or displaying offensive or pornographic materials
  • Inappropriate or unwanted touching
  • Sexual gestures

If An Employee Is Being Sexually Harassed, What Should They Do?

Some preliminary steps to consider might include – talking to the harasser and telling that person to stop the offensive behavior; documenting the situation; writing a letter to the harasser, to a supervisor or to human resources; and reviewing the employer’s sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure.

In some circumstances, an employee might have to first utilize the employer’s internal policies and procedures in order to later successfully bring a legal action.

You should also consider talking to an attorney, preferably one with experience in labor and employment law, about what has occurred. The attorney can help you understand your rights and how to best protect yourself, as well as discuss whether to assert a claim of sexual harassment (whether informally by making your concerns known to the employer, or formally by filing a complaint with the appropriate agency).

Like discrimination, the deadlines within which to bring a formal complaint are very strict, so it is generally helpful to talk to an attorney early.

What Can An Employer Do To An Employee Who Has Complained About Discrimination Or Sexual Harassment?

It is illegal for an employer to “retaliate against” an employee because s/he opposed something that s/he reasonably believed constituted unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment.”.  The law says that, to amount to illegal retaliation, the employer must do something that has a “material, adverse” affect.

Whether something an employer does to an employee is “material” can be a complicated question depending on the specific facts at issue. What feels like a material adverse action to you may not seem as important in the eyes of the law.

If you think your employer is taking adverse action against you because you have previously complained about discrimination or harassment, then you should talk to an experienced labor and employment attorney about your rights.

Contact Us For A Free Initial Telephone Consultation

If you feel that you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, don’t delay. Call our Hartford office at 860-454-9608 or use our online contact form to make an appointment to discuss your situation with our attorneys with a free initial phone consultation.